One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review –

Detention takes a dark turn when the student behind Bayview High’s infamous app About That dies from a peanut allergy—and every witness has a different reason for wanting him gone.

Although the author’s debut novel initially feels like a rehashing of The Breakfast Club, with five teens from very different social circles brought together through detention, there is no bonding through library dance parties or atypical lipstick application. Instead, Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy witness Simon collapse and ultimately die after taking a sip of water. When police discover the drink was laced with peanut oil—and that Simon was going to reveal life-ruining secrets about all four students on his gossip app the next day—they go from unfortunate witnesses to top murder suspects. With each teen (“brain,” “criminal,” “jock,” and “princess,” respectively; “walking teen-movie stereotypes,” as Simon says) narrating alternating chapters, the novel offers insights into common adolescent struggles—from the pressure to succeed to an alcoholic, out-of-work father—as well as an unlikely romance and opportunities for self-reflection as the investigation escalates.

Although the language and plot sometimes border on cliché, this fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic the  John Hughes  film, will leave readers racing to the finish as they try to unravel the mystery on their own.

The ending is surprising and makes for a very good “who-dun-it” read.

 

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The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Review –

I loved his book, even though it did become a bit monotonous with Cass bemoaning the murder on Blackwater Road all the time and that made her become a victim easier.

I won’t go into detail because it would be easy to give the ending away, but know this, it’s not what you initially think. It’s not cut and dried. There are misdirections and all of this makes for a class A “who-dun-it mystery”. 

I highly recommend  this book if you enjoy this genre.

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Review –

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a chilling thriller about what happens to the family of a serial killer and their struggles as the rest of the world continue to judge them as responsible for the killer’s atrocities.

The novel,by Rachel Caine, explores the consequences of the age-old question: how could she not know? Gina Royal is the wife of a serial killer. He killed women in his “workshop,” which was a refinished garage that Gina supposedly never went into. Even though she went to trial and was found not guilty, the jury of the world at large doesn’t believe her. 

Now, after years on the run, Gina—now Gwen—is tired of running. Her kids are tired of running. She hopes that this new house on the shores of Stillhouse Lake will be the perfect new forever home. And all signs point that way: there are police officers nearby, Gwen has learned how to use firearms, and there’s an alarm system and a panic room. It may just be time to settle down. 

Then, they find the woman in the lake. She had  been brutally mutilated and dumped in the lake. The modus operandi is all too familiar to Gwen. Her ex-husband used to do the same thing. Gwen—who has moved from place to place, never letting her children or herself settle into any kind of steady routine—now has to make a choice: run again or stay and hold her ground. 

Every day, Gwen hits the computer and checks the “sicko” boards—people who have followed her husband’s case and her own trial, people who think she is as guilty as he is, people who think she and her children should be punished. 

By the time we, as readers, meet the sickos on the boards, we’ve already spent a lot of time with Gwen and the kids, Lanny and Connor. While the kids are remaining flexible, the strain of constant moves and the inability to put down any roots is showing. There’s trouble at school. There’s trouble at home. The kids are completely caught in the middle of this fiasco—the children could easily be categorized as two more victims of their cruel father. 

But the sicko boards don’t care. Knowing what we know as readers, it’s very hard to read what these strangers want to do to them.  

Despite all its darkness Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake is a great summer read. The central topic is fascinating—haven’t we all wondered about serial killers who were married? Haven’t we all wondered about the spouse, what they knew, and whether they should be considered an additional victim? There’s a hint of romance, of all things. There are definitely scary, tense moments. The author  delves into all this and keeps the pace driving forward, perfect for the beach … maybe a little harrowing for the lake.

Loved this book.

Side Note:

IF the name Rachel Caine sounds familiar, it’s because she is also the author of several young adult books, One series being The Morganville Vampires series and I have read and loved all of those book.

The Morganville Vampires series

  1. Glass Houses (October 2006)
  2. The Dead Girls’ Dance (April 2007)
  3. Midnight Alley (October 2007)
  4. Feast of Fools (June 2008)
  5. Lord of Misrule (January 2009)
  6. Carpe Corpus (June 2009) 
  7. Fade Out (November 2009)
  8. Kiss of Death (April 27, 2010)
  9. Ghost Town (October 26, 2010)
  10. Bite Club (May 3, 2011)
  11. Last Breath (November 1, 2011)
  12. Black Dawn (May 1, 2012)
  13. Bitter Blood (November 6, 2012, Fall of Night (May 7, 2013)
  14. Daylighters (November 5, 2013)

Persons Unknown (DS Manon #2) by Susie Steiner

Book Description:

Published: July 4, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son, Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

Review – 

When we last saw Manon, she had adopted Fly, an orphan closely related to her last case, Missing, Presumed, and they were moving in with Manon’s sister, Ellie, and her toddler, Solomon, in London.

A year or two has passed, and the unlikely family unit has moved back to the familiar world of Cambridgeshire, where Manon is stuck working cold cases—and she’s five months pregnant, having decided to give up the wait for “Mr. Right” and take matters into her own hands.

She’s concerned about Fly, now one of the only black kids in the neighborhood, and the fact that he’s 12 going on 20. When a wealthy London banker is found stabbed in nearby Hinchingbrooke Park, Davy and Harriet, Manon’s friends and co-workers, quickly discover that he’s Ellie’s ex-boyfriend—and Solomon’s father. But before they can fully investigate this connection, their Chief Superintendent shuts them down and strongly suggests, instead, that they arrest Fly, who’s been caught on camera walking through the park at the time of the murder.

As in her previous novel, the author does not shy away from exploring the racist aspects of the justice system; this only works because she has crafted such complex and believable characters. There is no doubt that Manon is barely making it from day-to-day, but her heart is always in the right place, and for all her awkwardness, she once again proves to be a great cop—and a fierce mother.

A second adventure that strikes all the right notes—layered mystery, incisive cultural context, and a delightful protagonist who deserves a place alongside other beloved literary detectives.

I truly love this series and can’t wait for the third installment, and hopefully it will be out soon. Hint, hint… write faster, Susie Steiner!

 

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn t and the forensics expert searching for answers.

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Review –

This is a fast-moving page-turner from author, Charlie Donlea and finds  fledgling forensic pathologist Livia Cutty determined to find answers about the fate of her missing sister, Nicole, who vanished from a high school beach party in Emerson Bay, N.C., a year or so earlier, along with classmate Megan McDonald.

Megan has become a media darling since her recent escape from the bunker where she was held. A body brought to Livia’s Raleigh, N.C., morgue provides her first break. The badly decomposed corpse of a young man with puzzling injuries is identified as that of drifter Casey Delevan. When the news of the man’s death goes public as part of a homicide investigation, Livia gets a call from a friend of Nicole’s claiming a link between Casey and Nicole.

Starting to investigate in earnest with the aid of emotionally fragile Megan, the sympathetic doctor stumbles across a disturbing secret side to her sister—and into very real danger.

The author skillfully maximizes suspense by juggling narrators and time all the way to the shocking final twists. 

Excellent read that keeps the reader guessing from beginning to end.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

Review –

FIVE STARS !!!!!!

Just finished listening to this book and my heart is pounding so hard I feel like it’s going to come through my chest.

The author’s story is told from two perspectives, neither of which we are sure is reliable. There’s Adele, the beautiful, fragile wife of psychiatrist David. She loves her husband – “I will never fall out of love with him. I won’t give that up. I can’t” – and hopes their fresh start in London will mend both the cracks in their marriage and a past about which we get only hints. Then there’s Louise, a single mother who only discovers that the man she meets and kisses in a bar, David, is going to be her new boss when he’s given a tour of her workplace, along with his wife.

Louise is easier to warm to: friendly, kind, hideously embarrassed by her actions but still drawn to David. But she has her own secrets – what are the origins of the night terrors that send her wandering through her home? And why is she getting to know both David and Adele without explaining what she’s doing to both parties? “I don’t want it to stop. That’s the honest, unpleasant truth. I want to have my cake and eat it.” She’s not as straightforward as she seems.

Adele, meanwhile, is more intriguing with every chapter, as her past is slowly revealed, and glimpses of the truth at the heart of her marriage are given (at one point, David is described, brilliantly, as “a walking Agatha fucking Christie plot”). “The past is as ephemeral as the future – it’s all perspective and smoke and mirrors. You can’t pin it down, can you?… The truth is different to different people,” muses Adele.

“Questions, questions, questions,” ponders Louise. “It seems that ever since David and Adele came into my life I’ve been filled with questions. They’re like weeds in water. Every time I think I can swim away another one tangles around my legs to drag me back down.”

When the first of the author’s  twists is revealed, it is fantastically creepy, if not entirely unexpected. The second twist turns the creepy factor up to eleven and is a total wrong.. #WTFthatending indeed – the sort that makes you go back to the beginning to check if it all pans out. And it does.

FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!

You HAVE to put this book on your TBR list.

 

Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Review –

Last year I received this Post-It Note holder in a subscription box(I forget which one) but hadn’t read Caraval yet, so really didn’t appreciate it’s meaning until later.

 

The world of Caraval is one part amusement park, one part Venice, and one part game show, painted in all the colors of a gothic circus. Girls in gowns rustle their way down dark hallways, searching for clues that will win them a wish — but some girls have more need of wishes than others.

Scarlett has led a life made small by abuse. She and her sister Tella dwell in constant fear of their cruel and violent father. Tella beats against the bars of their golden cage, but Scarlett keeps the peace as best she can, desperate to protect them both. She has given up on her childhood dream of attending Caraval, a magical performance that blends theatre with an adventure game, resigning herself to an arranged marriage that will offer her — and Tella — a true escape from their father.

When an invitation arrives from Legend himself, the mastermind creator of Caraval, beckoning the sisters to a mysterious island and offering them a place in the game, Tella forces Scarlett to abandon her plans of calculated safety in favor of an adventure. But it soon becomes clear that Legend has other ideas. He steals Tella away and makes her the prize of Caraval, leaving Scarlett no choice but to win the game.

Scarlett knows that everything she experiences in Caraval is a part of the performance, but the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur, especially when it comes to Julian, a sailor boy who has joined the game. Like everyone she encounters in Caraval, he isn’t what he seems — and she can’t resist his help or his company. As the nights of the game progress, she sinks deeper and deeper into a story that grows ever darker, and gets further and further from the safe future that was almost within her grasp.

Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. For you see, Caraval is the world of the game, which feels like a journey into a dark branch of Disneyland, where the animatronics have feelings and don’t like you very much, and the expensive cupcakes may have poison in them.

Loved this book and am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series, Legendary, which comes out in May of this year, because what appears to be a happy ending isn’t at all what it seems.

 

The Roses of May (The Collector #2) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: May 23, 2017

Format: Audio

Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers.

Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?

Review –

This is the second in The Collector series and HAS to be read first. 

There are a few characters from the first book, The Butterfly Garden, but also has a whole new serial killer and new female lead.

The book opens and dives right into the story. Taking place a few months where the first novel left off but in an unconventional way.  The Butterflies are awaiting the trial of the Gardener and a few of the girls, unable to handle the trauma of the garden, have completed suicide.   The police officers from the original case are dealing with this and also find themselves being pulled back into a different investigation involving a serial killer who murders girls and adorns them with flowers.  When a sister (Priya) of one of the victims’ finds herself a target, the investigators must use their knowledge of the past and what they learned from the garden to find the perpetrator before he collects another victim.

The Butterfly Garden was the narrative style and told of the creepy events that took place in the garden; I found that this one read more like a police procedural. Instead of being character driven, this one focused more on the police investigation and the officer’s relationships to the victims.

It’s a quick and engaging read. I wanted to know what happened, and I was immediately invested in Priya, who’s both strong and vulnerable, in a way that’s reminiscent of Inara (whom I loved in The Butterfly Garden), but not so similar that it feels like Hutchinson is rehashing the same character again.

Although I loved The Roses of May for what it was, it was completely not what I was expecting. I will definitely read the final book in the series,The Summer Children, due out later this year, but I’m holding back on my expectations.

West Cork by Sam Bungey

Book Description:

Published: February 8, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible/Free Digital Book

This much we do know: Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered days before Christmas in 1996, her broken body discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland. The rest remains a mystery.

Gripping, yet ever elusive, join the real-life hunt for answers in the year’s first not-to-be-missed, true-crime series. Investigative journalist, Sam Bungey, and documentarian, Jennifer Forde, guide listeners through the brutal, unsolved murder and the tangled web of its investigation, while introducing an intricate cast of characters, a provocative prime suspect, and a recovering community whose story begs to be heard.

Review –

This originated as a thirteen week pod cast on Audible and in February of this year was released to members as a free audiobook.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, wife of renowned French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was mysteriously killed outside her vacation home in Schull just a few days before Christmas in 1996. Through interviews with people whose lives have been changed by the shocking crime — including her family, West Cork locals who have lived through more than 20 years of investigation and media attention, the prime suspect, and people close to the suspect — West Cork unravels the circumstances surrounding Sophie’s murder. The series also includes interviews with forensic scientists, pathologists and other experts who help disentangle the complexities of the case.

A newspaper journalist, with a lot of crazy baggage, is the prime suspect. In fact he was and is the ONLY suspect. All the evidence against him is circumstantial and he has never been brought to trial in Ireland, though arrested a few times. France has different laws about bringing people to trial and tried him in absentia  and found him guilty but he is living in Ireland and they can’t touch him.

If you like true crime – you should give this one a try.

 

 

 

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Book Description:

Published: March 14, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Review –

Never Let You Go is a book that brings the reader up close and personal to the inner workings of an abusive relationship. I was truly sickened by the ways Andrew manipulates Lindsey. In flashbacks to their relationship, Stevens doesn’t shy away from showing readers the many ways that Andrew threatened Lindsey into submission. The book isn’t too violent – there is a lot of  instances of emotional and verbal abuse depicted also. Sometimes it was difficult to read a few of these scenes, but it also served to make me even more invested in Lindsey’s wellbeing. I wanted her and her daughter to finally be free of Andrew so badly. Of course, Stevens has a number of tricks up her sleeve, and Lindsey and her daughter have a twisty path to travel in pursuit of that freedom. 

This book is structured in three parts: part one gives readers flashbacks on Lindsey and Andrew’s relationship, alternating between different years in their marriage, allowing readers to see the progression of the violence and control that Andrew exercised over Lindsey. Part two brings readers into the present day, as Lindsey and her daughter try to live their lives alongside Andrew’s release from prison. Part three fast-forwards a few months, showing the reader what has become of Lindsey and her daughter. I loved this plot structure—I found that it gave me a 360-degree view of the lasting effects of an abusive relationship, both on its victims and its perpetrators.

I absolutely loved the plot twists that this story does have, but I kept going back and forth on the “who”— I certainly never saw the “why” coming. I was completely shocked when the final ball drops, and readers realize what’s really going on in Lindsey’s life. Even if you do predict all of the big reveal, I don’t believe it would take away from your enjoyment of the book. This book really isn’t about plot twists, it’s an intimate glimpse into the darkest secrets of its characters, and no amount of plot twist-guessing will take that away from the reader.

It’s a chilling read and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Loved it!