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

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Erika

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

His name is Michael Crist.

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

But I noticed him.

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

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

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

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

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

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

In my city.

Unprotected.

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

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

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

Review –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five stars!

 

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Until You (Fall Away #1.5) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: February 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Have you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don’t care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. The sight of her centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging her, challenging her, bullying her…they are my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But she left. She went to France for a year, and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.

Review –

If you’re expecting Until You to just be a retelling of Bully in Jared’s POV, well, you’re in for a lovely surprise. Until You has so much more than what happens in Bully, and the timeline is longer. We get more of the year that Tate left for Europe (when Jared is totally moping about how Tate won’t be there for him to bully), more flashbacks of Jared and Tate’s childhood , and  more of what happens after the end of Bully. And Penelope Douglas writes this all with Jared’s no nonsense, totally badass POV. 

What is it with boys who are totally hot but complete jerks? And WHY do I still keep on loving them? Maybe it’s the sweet side that they show only to the women they love, or maybe it’s the whole redemption thing, but whatever reason it is, I can’t stop reading about them! And Jared is probably my all-time favorite jerk. He’s the jerk of my dreams. The lovable jerk. Sometimes he takes it too far, but whenever that happens, we know that he feels guilty (even though he tries to be badass and not show it). 

We get to see how devastated Jared felt when he came home from his father’s, and how he kept spiraling downward, and pushing Tate away. But then, when Tate comes back, everything changes for him. It’s not so easy to bully her or to bottle up his feelings for her. Because no matter how many times Jared tries to push Tate away, she is always in his heart. And when he’s finally done with the bullying… He turns on the charm because he knows Tate can’t resist him, just like he can’t resist her, and the two of them together are explosive.

Jared’s lantern tattoo!!  The sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Until You is perfect. Reading from Jared’s POV about how much he loves Tate, and how he tries to redeem himself is just the best thing ever. Penelope Douglas is a goddess for creating one of my favorite book boyfriends.

Fantastic read!

Too Much by Ella Miles

Book Description:

Published: April 6, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.

He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t fucking here.

Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got shitty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

A standalone, new adult romance, contemporary romance.

Review –

This was the most confusingest book I have read. I never understood what was going on between the characters one minute they were together and the next they could never be together. And one minute Quinn had Ava and the next she didn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I understood how all the characters were connected. My brain was literally discombobulated.

The idea of going backwards in their relationship before giving them a HEA was aggravating and I didn’t like it. I think it would’ve been good to have some of the flashbacks, but to also have more from the present to counteract it. The book was entirely about their past with just a few short parts about their present, and I just didn’t feel like it was enough.

There is a bit of “soap opera” drama and I felt the end was rushed. Nuff said.

 

The Sister (The Boss #6) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Sophie Scaife finally feels like her personal life is on the right track. Her marriage to her devastatingly sadistic billionaire Dom, Neil Elwood, is as sexually adventurous as ever. Their relationship with their lover, the glamorous and rich El-Mudad ibn Farid ibn Abdel Ati, is growing closer. Even sharing guardianship of Neil’s granddaughter with his ex is going smoothly.

But a trip to Sophie’s hometown leads to a heartbreaking discovery, and she’s forced to confront a family she never knew. When they ask her for a life-changing favor, she must choose between helping them and healing herself—unless she can find a way to do both.

While she navigates the unrelenting emotional pressure, long-simmering tensions come to a head in her professional life with dramatic consequences. Reconciling what her heart wants with fears for the future, Sophie must learn to let go of the past and embrace possibilities she never knew were options…

Review –

In The Sister, the sixth installment in The Boss series, you can expect a lot of movement in regards to romantic, family, and work relationships.

I wanted to love this book. I really did. and I did enjoy it! I enjoyed the dynamic between Sophie, Sasha, Susan and Molly. AND the fact that Sophie finally admitted to herself that she didn’t want to be in Mode anymore and gave it to Deja, and that she finally understood that she didn’t have to feel guilt about what she has.
As far as El-Mudad, Sophie and Neil… yeah I don’t know if I’m feeling it. I came into this series with a love for Sophie and Neil’s love and bringing in a third person just doesn’t allow focus on Sophie and Neil. I don’t know, I don’t necessarily hate it or even dislike it. The whole polygamy aspect doesn’t bother me. Plus I LOVE El-Mudad. Maybe if that had been the initial plot I wouldn’t be on the fence about it. I do appreciate the respect that all three have for each other through it all though. Just not sure if I’m ready for the full focus to no longer be on Sophie and Neil. In the beginning the love between them was so BIG it didn’t seem like there was room in their hearts for anyone else.

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.

 

The Boss (The Boss #1) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: July 15, 2013   

Format: Audio/Audible

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.

When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss – billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood – Sophie can’t resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them… and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she’s ever known.

Neil is the only man who has ever understood Sophie’s need to submit in the bedroom, and the only man who has ever satisfied those desires. When their scorching, no-strings-attached sexual relationship becomes something more, Sophie must choose between her career and heart… or risk losing them both.

Review –

I believe this may be the first BDSM/contemporary romance written by a woman that Ive read and I found that not only are the sex scenes amazingly hot, but the characters are well developed and seem like real people, not caricatures. This book portrays a good relationship with proper communication, boundaries, and an equal partnership even with the economic/age disparity. The D/s aspects of the story make sure to stress concepts like consent, safewording, and aftercare. The wealth of likeable and love-to-hate characters span a wide range of diversity and don’t fall into the usual clichés you’d expect from this kind of story, which is refreshing and wonderful.

The build-up to the cliffhanger and the cliffhanger itself was expertly done and my heart is currently aching wondering how the heroine and hero will handle the next stage of their lives. I’m looking forward to the second book.

My recommendation is: if you can get over the age difference (twenty-four years), navigate through the sexual athleticism, and the fact of the cliffhanger ending, you’ll enjoy this novel.

This is a series of seven books and I don’t know if I will read them all, but I’m definitely reading the next one to see what happens.

 

 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2009

Format: Audio/Audible

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much-loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairy tales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Review –

If I had to pick just one thing that Kate  Morton does extremely well with her writing it would be how she brings the settings featured throughout the story to life. One can feel the warm, thick air in Australia, hear the busy, bustling streets of London, and see the magic that surrounds Cornwall, England. I have never laid my eyes on any of these locations, but I could picture them all so vividly with the way that Morton breathes life into her words.

Overall, The Forgotten Garden is a magical novel; it was as delightful as it was suspenseful. I truly did not want to put this book down because the author is so careful to feed her readers little spoonfuls of information—enough so as to keep one partially satisfied but still craving more. I just thoroughly enjoyed watching the many beautifully executed components of this book unfold. This is a must-read specifically for those who are a fan of the historical fiction genre. 

I rated this book Five Stars and it shines brightly as one of my favorites of the year so far!

Silent Boy by Sarah A. Denzil

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

n the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.


His body was never recovered. 
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

Review –

Silent Child tells the story of a parent’s most fervent prayer answered after their worst nightmare, but with complications.  While Emma Price’s son Aiden is returned to her after ten years, he is far different from the energetic, little boy whose red jacket was fished out of the flood swollen river. His body tells the tale of imprisonment and sexual assault that he can’t bear to utter and so he remains deliberately silent.

By the time Emma received that phone call from the hospital, she’d finally come to terms with Aiden’s disappearance and supposed death.  No longer with his father, her high school boyfriend Rob, she is currently married to a man named Jake and is pregnant with his child.  Aiden’s reappearance back into her life initially evokes obvious joy, but when she realizes how broken her son is, her happiness quickly turns to horror, grief, and an eventual terror and uncertainty about what Aiden might do to his new baby sister.  Her husband and the ex-boyfriend who’s now back in her life only serve to complicate matters more.

Right off the bat, Jake (the husband) comes off as a complete asshole.  There’s a part in the beginning where he fat shames her.  Um, she’s your wife, and she’s pregnant with your fucking child, but it was when Emma mentioned how he had to “train” her that my suspicion meter really went up.

Jake is an excessively tidy person whereas Emma is much messier, but when she moved in with him, she learned that in Jake’s house everything has its place.  Rob (the ex) points this out a bit derisively, and there’s a point where Emma recalls how Jake moved her beloved childhood desk to the garage, replacing it with a newer one (that Emma in no way asked for or wanted), because it didn’t fit in with his perfect scheme.  Throwing a potentially unpredictable Aiden into the mix upsets everything, though Jake does try to be supportive for Emma’s sake.

The author does an excellent job of showing how uncaring the media can be when there’s a story to be had.  The well-being of those involved means nothing, and a perfectly valid outburst is ripe fodder to be used against you, as Emma learns to her regret.

This is one of her many hard lessons.  Some of us are lucky to have a sheltered youth, but then as adults, we have a better understanding of what the world is, but there’s often more than one awakening to this truth, and the lesson Emma learns about masks and the ones who wear them breaks down her trust and that shelter even more.

By the middle of the story, I had a suspect, and the narrative did nothing to discourage me, which I thought was fantastic.  It’s a red herring.  Ms. Denzil wants us to suspect this person. Then later another character seems just as guilty and could there be an accomplice ?
Although the story has a happy ending, it’s muted and not really celebrated. I loved the book and I think any one who appreciates a good psychological thriller will want to add this one the their list to be read.
Five stars!

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

Review –

“Reading anything by Karin Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a season ticket on a ride that never lets you off.” Kirkus Review

I couldn’t have said it better. I am a HUGE fan of Karin Slaughter and have read all of her books and I rate this one FIVE STARS!

Andrea Oliver’s always felt inferior to her parents. Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney; her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist. Andy herself has never aspired to any career goal higher than serving as an assistant to someone important. Even when she left Belle Isle, Georgia, for the Big Apple, she got nowhere, and she was only too eager to return home when her mother announced three years ago that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer.

As the two women mark Andy’s thirty first birthday by sharing lunch in a mall cafe, a crazed shooter opens fire on a mother-and-daughter pair who’ve stopped to greet Laura, and Andy’s life changes in an instant. Or rather two instants, the first when the shots ring out and the second when Laura, after inviting the killer to shoot her next, coolly and dispassionately kills him. It takes the dazed Andy hours to realize that her mother’s not at all who she seems to be, and by the time she’s ready to accept the fact that Laura Oliver is a woman with a past, that past is already racing to catch up with both mother and daughter. Cutting back and forth between Andy’s harrowing flight to nowhere after Laura pushes her out of her home and a back story thirty  years earlier involving the Army of the Changing World, a cell of amateur terrorists determined to strike a mortal blow against greedy capitalists and, it eventually turns out, each other as well, the author never abates her trademark intensity, and fans will feel that the story is pumping adrenalin directly into their bloodstreams. Long before the end, though, the impostures, secret identities, hidden motives, and double-crosses will have piled up past the point of no return, leaving the tale to run on adrenalin alone.

The plot was unlike anything I had read before but the chapters set in the present were more engaging than those set in the past and I found myself speed reading through the backstop just to get back to the present.

Loved it and can’t wait for her new book, The Last Widow, that comes out later this year.

The Dazzling Heights (the Thousandth Floor #2) by Katharine McGee

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

All that glitters is not gold.

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

Review –

I love it when an author begins a sequel right where the preceding book leaves off and Katharine McGee did not disappoint.

Just like its predecessor, The Dazzling Heights is a character-driven story. The character developments are definitely something I really look forward to. I want to see how the characters moved on and if they learned anything from the incident. Avery was a character I liked in the first book. However, I’m not sure if I liked Avery in The Dazzling Heights. All her storyline focused on her relationship with Atlas. I was actually expecting more for Avery’s character development. I have to say though that Avery became more exciting toward the end of the book. Finally, some drama from Avery. 

Leda is the character I strongly disliked  the most at the end of the first book. At the beginning of this book, my feelings didn’t change. I still hated her. She was truly sly and cunning in order to get what she wanted. Although I have to say that I wasn’t expecting the development with Leda. While she didn’t become a completely different person, there was a lot of changes in her. I think having Watt by her side helped her a lot in realising what she did wrong in the first book.

Watt is still the same Watt in The Thousandth Floor. In this book you’d meet him a lot because he spent a lot of time with Leda – which leads to him developing feelings for her. I have to say that this new romantic development was totally fine. The transitions from “enemy” to romantic interest was done really well.

Rylin was my favourite girl in the first book. The scholarship was something I didn’t expect to happen. To have her in the same school with the others had drama written all over it. One of the biggest question I had for her was how was her relationship Cord going to be? Are they going to be friends again? Did Cord hate her? I really want them to be together. Aaaand I wasn’t disappointed! I liked how their relationship was played out in this book. I knew it would be impossible for them to get back together right away given the ending of the first book. I really liked Cord as a character I wish we got his POV in the next book.

One of the things I wished for this book was more Marielle. I was hoping that Marielle would play a bigger role in this book, but no! We got a new character instead. For me, Calliope was a very welcome addition to the story. She brought new dramas and excitement to the story. Although I have to say that with her being in love with Atlas, there were SO MANY mentions of Atlas which made me wish there was an Atlas POV.  Beyond Atlas, her backstory was very sad and helped you to understand where she was coming from. I wasn’t sure how to feel about her in the middle of the book, but at the end, I liked Calliope. Despite her con-artist activities there were many instances in the book where you got to see the real Calliope. I’m really excited on how she’s going to be in the next book.

Love this YA series!