The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe…

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

Review –

The author  presents reincarnation against the backdrop of reality: a mother’s love and a mother’s grief. There is none of the fantasy world often found in novels based on reincarnation, so the premise seems more plausible—even to a skeptic.

What also separates The Forgetting Time from other novels based on a similar premise is that the author points out that according to case studies done by credible psychiatrists, a child troubled by the memories left over from another life begins to forget at around age six. This theme of forgetting underlies the plot. At some point one must let go of the past and live in the present.

The Forgetting Time is both a mystery and a philosophical novel, and lacks the flaws found in so many debut novels. There are no weak and unbelievable characters; the plot has no holes in its construction; and the portraits of love and grief offset one another in a balanced manner.

This book tells a sentimental story with a murder mystery at its core, and it’s interesting even if you don’t go for the premise.

 

Advertisements

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Book Description:

Published: June 12, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Review –

Georgina was an upwardly mobile executive in a highly successful company when she is arrested for helping her teenage boyfriend dispose of the body of her best friend and fellow cheerleader, whom he had killed, fourteen years before.She made a plea deal and only got five years.

Prison is very hard for her and the author goes into detail about her experiences while incarcerated. She receives letters in blue envelopes over the years but after having read the first does not read the others. Of course, we are to think they are from the SweetBay Strangler, her ex-boyfriend, but are they really?

Once out, she goes to live with her father in her childhood home and try to start a new life but people in the neighborhood don’t want her there and vandalize her home and car with red spray paint, because they believe she helped to kill her friend. Her father is very supportive, as is Kaiser Brody, also a best friend from her high school years and now a police detective. He believes Geo, Georgina’s nickname, know where Calvin is and tries to get her to tell him every chance he gets. Fourteen years ago he had a crush on Geo and still loves her but believes it’s a lost cause.

The author  does not flinch from visceral descriptions of murder and rape,( a very important part of the story) it is a much deeper story about a high school girl who fell head over heels with a killer and how it destroyed her life.

Jar of Hearts is an unpredictable and riveting thriller that keeps the pages turning with characters who are stimulating and a storyline that keeps you totally on the edge of your seat.

Five stars!

 

 

 

In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2016

Format: Audio

Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

Review –

I found myself feeling for Grace as representative of the young woman of her time, but had difficulty understanding  Mina as a contemporary woman. Her wise cracking didn’t make up for her refusal to own up to the realities of her life. The connection between Mina and Grace and their stories is weak and not integral to the other or their outcomes. The mystic elements are also minor and either explained away or easily resolved. In the Light of What We See was a  pleasant, fast read, but fell short of expectations.

 

The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault

Book Description:

Published: January 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A gripping blend of psychological suspense and historical true crime, this riveting novel—inspired by a sensational real-life murder from the 1800s—by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault delivers a heart-stopping mystery linking two young mothers from different centuries.

Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.

1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.

During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.

Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.

Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own.

Review –

“In 2014, high school history teacher and new mom Abby Bernacki worries over “odd” happenings in her 19th-century house, such as her baby daughter’s mysterious bruise. After consulting with a past owner, Abby obtains a historic resident’s journal and befriends a local archivist, who introduces her to a trove of puzzling artifacts. In 1878, another new mother who lived in the house, Frances Barnett, was ordered to a month’s “rest” in bed to cure her nervous condition. Once she’s out of bed, Frances fakes enthusiasm for domestic tasks while concealing from her husband her obsession with the trial of a gruesome murderer. The historic parts of the novel draw on the tale of a real-life 1879 murder and trial, even including several real New York Times articles that covered the story. Readers will squirm at the courtroom scenes involving a removed and preserved face and experiments with arsenic and donated stomachs. In another bit of historical accuracy, Frances toils in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital in Massachusetts, which at the time turned a profit on the work of its residents. The novel consists of three threads: Abby’s 2014 perspective, where she reads notes Frances kept in a cooking journal in 1878; Frances’ mental-hospital monologue to her visiting brother in 1885; and the 1998 death of a college student in Abby’s dorm. The college thread is minimally developed and seems incidental, until it ties in as the foundation of an emotionally satisfying ending. Abby’s and Frances’ mirrored stories are the stars of the show; despite their very different circumstances, both women are humbled by the pressures of new motherhood before they find empowerment in the hunt for justice.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this type of book where the past and present collide. Great read! Five stars!!!!!

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. For whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything.

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.

When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Review –

Newlywed London lawyer Lily Macdonald’s best intentions land her in some of the worst predicaments in British author, Jane Corry’s U.S. debut, in which almost no one proves totally trustworthy.

For instance, Lily’s generous impulse to befriend nine-year-old neighbor Carla Cavoletti, a bullied Italian immigrant with whose vulnerability she identifies, will eventually change the course of the lives of Lily and her artist husband, Ed, unfortunately not for the better. In the same way, Lily’s drive to champion clients she views as underdogs, which stems in part from experiences with her autistic brother, blinds her to the fact that some are dangerously manipulative liars who actually belong behind bars. But well-meaning as Lily is, readers will discover she isn’t above hiding some rather unsavory secrets of her own. As twisty as little Carla’s glossy curls, which inspire Ed’s best work, this swiftly moving psychological thriller offers surprises right up to the finish.

Great read!

The Child by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: June 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

Review –

Although the author relies on multiple points of view to tell (and retell) the larger story of the “Building Site Baby” as the unidentified infant comes to be known. Three other female characters get drawn into this story by learning about that same news item that piqued Kate’s curiosity. First to appear is a nervous young woman named Emma who’s married to an older professor; like Kate, Emma spots the story in the evening paper and reacts in a gush of purple prose: “I keep reading it over and over. I can’t take it in properly, as if it’s a foreign language. . . . [T]error is coiling around me. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. Making it hard to breathe.”

Then there is Jude, Emma’s mother, a narcissist, who quickly puts an end to the conversation by saying, “Well, we don’t want to talk about dead babies, do we?”

And finally, Angela, an emotionally fragile older woman, is the most sympathetic of the trio. Back in 1970, she gave birth to a baby daughter whom she named Alice. The next day, Alice disappeared from her cot in the hospital. When Angela spots the building-site baby article in the newspaper, she shouts out loud and then insists to her husband, “It’s just after [Alice’s] birthday. That could be a sign.” But the couple has been down this road too many times before. “It will be more heartbreak if you get your hopes up,” advises Angela’s husband. “It’ll make you ill like before.”

How do these three women fit together or do they? Who is the “Building Sight” baby and what happened to it all those years ago?

This was a great read with a great twist at the end.

Loved It!

 

 

 

Wicked Favor (The Wicked Horse Vegas #1) by Sawyer Bennett

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2017

Format: Free Digital Book

New York Times bestselling author, Sawyer Bennett, is happy to introduce a new Wicked Horse club in Las Vegas and you’re cordially invited to attend the grand opening…

As the owner of The Wicked Horse, an elite sex club located along the Vegas Strip, Jerico Jameson never spends the night alone. Gorgeous, ripped, and totally alpha, Jerico doesn’t grant favors and will rarely give you the time of day—unless he wants you in his bed. So when the sister of his sworn enemy shows up asking for help, saying no should be easy. But when Jerico takes one look at her and sees an opportunity to help this beautiful woman while exacting revenge on her brother, he’s not about to pass that up.

Beaten and bruised, Trista Barnes is running out of options, and Jerico is her last chance to get out of the mess she’s in. She doesn’t know why Jerico despises her brother so much, but as long as he can help her, she doesn’t care. Jerico offers her safety while opening her up to a sinful world she never knew existed.

As she succumbs to Jerico’s erotic charm, Trista lets herself fall into the wicked world of guilt free pleasure with no regrets. Under his strong alpha hand, she blooms, and so does Jerico’s possessiveness. But what happens when Trista finds out she was a pawn in Jerico’s game all along, and that the price for his favor was steeper than she ever imagined – her heart.

Review –

I have read the original Wild Horse series so when I saw this book I thought I’d give it a try.

I didn’t like Jerico throughout this entire book, even when he wasn’t acting like he was God’s gift to women. To me he was an asshole, but I’m sure I’m in the minority.

He hated Jayce Barnes for good reasons and plotted to send him sex tapes and pictures of his sister, Trista, for a bit of revenge. Even when his best friend told him it was the wrong thing to do he still went ahead with his plan. He DID change his mind but (now get this) only after Trista baked him is favorite cake, Red Velvet. Sounds like a valid reason, right?

In the end he did do the right thing and got rid of the video and pictures (only where Trista could find them), paid off the real loan shark, bought Trista’s old house and had it fixed up for her Mother and bought a house where he and Trista and Corrine would live. 

The Sex scenes were VERY good, but I thought if Jerico cared for and even loved Trista – he shouldn’t want to SHARE her even if it was one of her fantasies.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, just not Jerico’s character. Will I read the other books in the series. Most likely!

Heartbreak Hotel (Alex Delaware #32) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: February 14, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis investigate the death of Alex’s most mysterious patient to date in the sensational new thriller from the master of suspense, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman.

At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history.

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.

When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.
Review –
“Heartbreak Hotel is the thirty-second Alex Delaware novel Jonathan Kellerman has written. He learned early in his career that child psychologist Delaware and his police investigator buddy Milo Sturgis make a winning team. Over the years there have been good Delaware stories and some that are not as good. Heartbreak Hotel is one of the best.

The novel starts with Alex being contacted by a woman named Thalia Mars. Since he is a child psychologist he rarely takes on adults as clients, and Thalia is very adult. She is ninety-nine years old with her one hundredth birthday coming in three weeks. Still there is something about her that piques Delaware’s interest so he agrees to meet with her. Nothing much happens in that meeting but the next day things get a lot more interesting. Delaware gets involved in a murder case that sends him and Milo reeling.

The circumstances of the murder and the body count that follows requires some step by step investigating by Milo, who takes Alex along for the ride and his expertise. It is a painfully slow process for them but due to the writing expertise of Kellerman, it is a fast trip for the reader. Each investigative fact the duo uncovers is another building block in the case against the murderer. Some of the evidence and background information is found by Milo, but a good amount is also found by Alex.

Kellerman is the kind of writer who wants to make sure the reader knows the scenery of the places where the plot develops. He describes what each character is wearing, what they look like, even how they move. Then for good measure he tells you about the furniture in the places where they live or work. He describes the architecture in specifics and doesn’t miss a detail when giving you the lay of the land.

Sometimes this attention to detail is a bit too much but Kellerman is so good at describing everything you have to give him a little leeway. In the end it all pays off because as you finish the pages you feel you have seen a movie in your head. Plus you have images of the characters that linger in your mind along with the plot.

In Heartbreak Hotel, Jonathan Kellerman has created another compelling murder mystery. You get the insider’s view from Milo Sturgis’ vantage point, and the outsider’s view from Delaware’s. It is one of the best novels Kellerman has written in a couple of years and it renews your faith in his enduring talent.” by Jackie K. Cooper (couldn’t have said it better myself)

I highly recommend this book.

 

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review –

What a roller coaster ride! My head is still spinning from all the twists and turns this book took to relate the journey of three girls who meet their Freshman year at college and became roommates and friends/enemies for the next 20 plus years.

One girl gets way with murder and one girl is later murdered and you don’t find out the killer until THE VERY END.

Loved it. Highly recommend it!

Five stars!!!

Damaged (Rosato and DiNunzio #4) by Lisa Scottoline

Book Description:

Published: August 16, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Damaged finds Mary DiNunzio, partner at the all-female law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio, embroiled in one of her most heartbreaking cases yet. Suing the Philadelphia school district to get help for a middle school boy with emotional issues, Mary ends up becoming the guardian ad litem of her minor client. As she goes up against Nick Machiavelli, her opposing counsel and the dark prince of South Philly lawyers who will use any means necessary to defeat her, she becomes more and more invested in the case—and puts everything, including her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, on the line.

Review –

Mary DiNunzio, a partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio, takes on a heartbreaking case involving a dyslexic fifth grader, Patrick O’Brien, who’s bullied at school and is getting no support for his language disability. Patrick, who’s being raised by his paternal grandfather, allegedly attacked a school aid with scissors, and now the aid is suing both Patrick and the school board for damages. On the brink of her wedding to college professor Anthony Rotunno, Mary becomes emotionally attached to Patrick, more so than any previous client, and finds herself pitted against a diabolical attorney, Nick Machiavelli (aka the Dark Prince), who’s determined to win a settlement, despite the emotional cost to the 10-year-old boy. In her struggle to save Patrick, Mary finds herself fighting her associates, her fiancé, and social services. Tensions mount until the story concludes with a satisfying, unexpected twist. 

This was the fourth  book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, and it’s an excellent addition to the series although it can certainly be read as a stand-alone novel. Damaged made an excellent addition to my Scottoline collection, and I highly recommend it!