Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

Review –

Pretty Girls Dancing is Kylie Brant’s latest standalone  novel, and the first book of hers that I’ve tried.  It’s described as a dark thriller, although I disagree.

A series of kidnappings/murders is devastating a small town and the families involved. The world is believed to be done by a serial killer called the Ten Mile Killer (TMK for short). Okay, so a lot of this is probably pretty obvious from the description of the novel. The TMK villain kidnaps and tortures little girls. While the torture is necessarily graphic, it is still very much torture. Bodies are found during the course of the novel, as is (spoiler warning) a surviving victim. While they don’t use the word, it’s very clear that she has been sexually assaulted by her TMK captor. I know these themes can be upsetting to many, so just be aware of them going in.

 

The Summer Children (The Collector #3) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

Review –

The Summer Children is the third book in the series The Collector by Dot Hutchison. Though I did read it as a standalone, because it has been over two years since I read the first two books in the series. There are characters that come and go in this book who have made their appearance in the previous installments. The Summer Children is a about an FBI team of which Mercedes Ramirez is a member. They are in Crimes Against Children section of the FBI. She has been there for ten years and has helped  and rescued more children than she can count.

The book begins with Mercedes and her girlfriend returning to Mercedes’ home where they come across a little boy waiting for Mercedes. The little boy, Ronnie, is covered in blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings. He claims to be deposited on her porch by the angel who killed his parents. A few days later, Mercedes and her teammate Eliza Sterling return to Mercedes’ place to see three kids on her porch. Sarah, Ashley and Sammy with faces streaked with blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings  say the same thing as well. All the children were brought here by the angel who killed their parents and deposited here because Mercedes would keep them safe. These kids had to watch their parents be killed, and then they were told they’d be safe with Mercedes. Safe because they are all victims of abuse. Ronnie was abused by his father while Sarah by her stepfather. As more and more children from similar backgrounds turn up at Mercedes’ place, the local PD asks to partner with the FBI to solve the crime. And solve it they do.

There is a good plot in this book. While abuse is a thread running strong throughout the book, certain sections of the book have a much horrific version than the rest. Stomach turningly horrific. There is evil in this world and sometimes we choose to ignore it willfully. This is something that a few characters do with confidence in The Summer Children.  But the CAC team tries hard to stop further damage. So, if you are someone who can not read about bad things being done to children, then skip this book.

What I loved about this book was the team in which Mercedes works. A unit that works together in sync and a team that’s more family than friends. Office politics and other distractions do not hinder their investigations or stop them from pursuing criminals. Each of them, be it the head of the unit or the newest member, is involved in their job hoping to save one more child. A noble cause, for which they all have their own reasons to contribute to.

The book starts off a bit slow, but, never does it get boring. There is a nice pace that begins once the children start arriving. It is a book that has blood, sweat and tears and makes us question rules and regulations, between right and wrong.

Again, there is a lot of child abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional in this book.  If you can handle it, then put on your TBR list.

Fantastic read!

 

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

Review –

Author Mark Edwards describes his psychological thrillers as stories “in which scary things happen to ordinary people”. No kidding! I actually had nightmares about this book and felt so stressed throughout that it gave me a tension headache. I’m serious. I had to turn off my listening device, take a decompressing break by listening to a lighter/no angst book and ONLY then go back and finish it.

After a whirlwind romance followed closely by marriage to the gorgeous Gemma, science teacher Elliot feels like his life is complete. He has everything he can ever want: a loving partner, a beautiful home, a job he loves and an adored cat who is like a child to him. That’s until his in-laws come to stay for two weeks – and never move out. Which in itself is terrifying, except that you have no idea how bad it can get, because these are not your average family but a bunch of utter psychopaths! Sweet Elliot, whose own parents are long dead, has no chance against the destructive force that is about to be unleashed on his life.

 There are crazy twists at every turn, some so hair-raising that if this was a scary movie I would have to turn the volume on low and peek through my fingers. No such luck here, though. The story slowly unrolled in all its horrifying glory, and I felt like I had knives thrown at my heart. 

As I am sitting here writing this review, I still feel the remnants of tension in my gut, the sort that only a strong White Russian and a night off the thrillers can fix. 

if you suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety or poor impulse control (i.e. book throwing), do not enter into this without consulting your doctor first. Also, this book is like reading about a plane crash before embarking on a long-haul flight, so if your in-laws’ visit is imminent, I recommend skipping it for now. Who am I kidding? This book is pure hell!!!!! Enter at your own risk! And don’t say I didn’t warn you ….

Second Skin by Christian White

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Listening Length: 4 hours and 28 minutes

Stan Weir is mourning a tragic loss when he meets a mysterious nine-year-old girl, who claims to be the reincarnated spirit of his late wife. Marcy Keef is a single mother trying to make ends meet, when her daughter Erin starts describing “past life memories.” Neither wants to believe Erin, but as violent secrets are revealed, the truth becomes harder to deny.

With echoes of Stephen King, Second Skin is a propulsive thriller about grief, guilt, and truths better left unknown.

Review –

This book is one released only on Audible and free for members in April 2020. Audible usually provides 5-7 free books at the first of every month and in April I chose four. In May, I didn’t;t choose any-none of them were “my cup of tea”, but I love that they do that for their members.

At four and a half hours of audio it is not a long book, but I thought the author packed quite a lot of story, characterizations and twists in that short period. It was an easy listen and I did not see the ending coming until a large twist was revealed.

Second Skin was a good mystery with a paranormal angle to it and some unexpected twists along the way. Can’t reveal too much as it would be a spoiler. The narration by Ellen Archer in all voices was especially outstanding.

The cover image seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, unless I blinked and missed it. I hate this! I wish I had the job of choosing book covers, but a girl can only dream!

If this book comes out later this year in print or e-book form you should really give it a try. You will not be disappointed .

Loved it!

Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw #3) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

“Trust only those who earn it.”

A sentiment I follow without direction but holds more consequence than ever before.

One decision, five lives, three futures.
This is what’s at stake.

One night, one choice, four broken Brayshaws.
That is where we’re headed.

Unless I stop it.
I 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 to stop it.

I have to remind him of what he’s chosen to forget.

My town. My choice. 𝘔𝘺 ending.

Review –

Reign of Brayshaw picked up exactly where Trouble at Brayshaw left off. Thank god because that ending was freaking crazy as hell to try to get over.  Once I started this novel, I had zero power when it came to putting it down. I sat on the couch and lounged in my bed the entire day while I binged this bad boy. So let that be a lesson for you, if you have a long fulfilling day planned to the max of stuff you absolutely have to get done….. I highly recommend you hold off on reading this book until a day when you have nothing on the schedule. Because this book will consume your every thought and you’re going to want to know what happens next, and what happens after that. It’s a continuous ‘just one more chapter’ broken promise on an endless loop.

This book is full of twists and turns, you truly never know what waits around the corner. The shocking moments are just as brutal as the angst. My heart was in hyper overdrive thinking the best but expecting the worst possible outcomes.

My heart broke for Raven  repeatedly because all she wanted in life was to find acceptance and love. Given her past history though, letting people in wasn’t an easy task for her to accomplish. So it was great to watch her find that acceptance and love she’s been searching for her entire life.

Maddoc lies down when he needed to stand up but  I still loved him.  And, you can understand the helplessness he’s feeling and the extreme jealously anyone in his position would be dealing with.

The story wrapped up with a bang and I was left an emotional mess. I love stories like this that make me just FEEL SO MUCH!

This will go down as one of my favorite NA series. It’s sexy, angst filled drama that also had sweet, emotional, heartfelt moments. I absolutely recommend!

OMG…. I completely forgot why I rated Reign of Brayshaw a four instead of a full 5 stars rating. I dropped a star because some of the moments seemed a bit far fetched and really  unreal. I understand this is fiction, but I like a little realism mixed into the romances I read. I like to walk away thinking, damn that could really happen in someone’s life. But I unfortunately didn’t walk away with that notion. A bit of the content was extremely far fetched.

Love the cover, too!

A Thin Dark Line (Broussard and Fourcade #1,Doucet #4)) by Tami Hoag

Book Description:

Published:  April 1, 1998

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Terror stalks the streets of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. A suspected murderer is free on a technicality, and the cop accused of planting evidence against him is ordered off the case. But Detective Nick Fourcade refuses to walk away. He’s stepped over the line before. This case threatens to push him over the edge.

He’s not the only one. Deputy Annie Broussard found the woman’s mutilated body. She still hears the phantom echoes of dying screams. She wants justice. But pursuing the investigation will mean forming an alliance with a man she doesn’t trust and making enemies of the men she works with. It will mean being drawn into the confidence of a killer. For Annie Broussard, finding justice will mean risking everything—including her life.

The search for the truth has begun—one that will lead down a twisted trail through the steamy bayous of Louisiana, and deep into the darkest reaches of the human heart.

Review –

This is a psychosexual thriller about tough Cajun loners looking for love in unlikely places.

Heroine Annie Broussard is a deputy with the sheriff’s office in Partout Parish in southern Louisiana. An orphan who’s working hard to make detective, she’s also devoted to getting rid of the sexual predators who victimize women. But just as her career seems to be looking up, Annie breaks an unwritten police law: She arrests a fellow officer, Nick Fourcade, when she finds him beating up a murder suspect. Annie should have let Fourcade kill him, say both her colleagues and the bayou parish citizens. After all, the suspect, Marcus Renard, had supposedly stalked Pam Bichon, a single mother. He’d driven stakes through her hands, raped her, killed her, eviscerated her, then left her wearing only a feathered Mardi Gras mask in a deserted cottage on Pony Bayou. Why not kill him? Switching his obsession from Pam to Annie, he maintains that he’s innocent and begs Annie to help him. Working with Fourcade, who’s suspended but still obsessed with the case, she seeks evidence to put the troubled Marcus legally behind bars. Meanwhile, someone’s raping Louisiana women, and Marcus is too injured to be the perp. Is it Annie’s lazy, mean-spirited colleague Stokes? Or Pam’s husband, involved with a New Orleans racketeer from Fourcade’s past? As Mardi Gras approaches, Annie, a cute kid who does fifty chin-ups a day and has an addiction to candy bars, wrestles with Fourcade’s dangerous sexualityfortunately a losing battle—and with the evil presence of deranged male predators who aren’t who they seem.

I read the second book first and it did not dampen my enjoyment of this one, but rather, gave me a better understanding go the characters. I don’t understand why this author has not written any more books in this series. Maybe she will surprise me one day.

 

 

 

 

The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

Book. Description:

Published: August 26, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman’s disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police.

With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence.
A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies―The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.

Review –
The premise  of this book is great: a woman who believes her husband is having an affair meets a man in the park. She feels happiness once again until a woman goes missing from the same park she frequents, and the police come knocking and her therapist appears to doubt her.
This was a pleasure from beginning to end. This  psychological thriller is a fast page turner that keeps the tension high and had me trying to figure out what was going on. I love putting on my Sherlock Holmes  hat and trying to figure out twists  and turns. What is real and what is imagined?
This book was hard to put down  or stop listening to and really packs a lot into its pages without being over the top. The pace is spot on and at times the tension leaps off the page. I loved the originality of the story and way the authors told the story. This writing duo had me trying to determine what was real and what wasn’t. Who can be trusted? Look at the clues, and delve into this book of engaging suspense, drama and dark questions.
A delightfully complex mystery with a compelling protagonist.
Fantastic read!

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

The internationally bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish follows that success with an addictive novel filled with shocking twists about the aftermath of a brutal high-society murder.

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Review –

This book is about murder, mental health, friendship, secrets, marriage, money, memory, and mother-daughter relationships. It’s well paced – not fast, not slow – and this pacing kept me engaged throughout the book.

Kate is a unreliable narrator just like Nellie/Vanessa in The Wife Between Us, and she gets worse as the story progresses. I wasn’t sure if she was imagining things or if she was the person wreaking all of the havoc. I would have liked more of a backstory on her, but this book had plenty of character development and I enjoyed the ride.

Liv Constantine’s last book drew me in right away and when I got comfortable with its direction, bombs were dropped and the plot turned unexpectedly. This time, I was on guard for bombs as I read this book. I was not disappointed; I loved the surprises, twists, and turns.

If compared to The Wife Between Us, I like this book so much more. It was creepier and had more mystery and suspense. It has a sinister feel and everyone seemed to have an ulterior motive; it was hard to figure out who to trust. This book is a psychological suspense and thriller wrapped in one, and I loved it.

 

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: December 26, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

Review –

“A young newlywed’s life is upended, and a picturesque neighborhood is shattered, when she is suspected of a savage murder.

At the beginning of a new year, Joey Mullen moves back to England from Ibiza with Alfie, her husband, whom she hastily married out of grief over the death of her mother. Jack, Joey’s older brother, invites the young couple to move into his painted Victorian house in the upscale Bristol neighborhood of Melville Heights so they can get on their feet financially and help with the baby that Jack and his wife, Rebecca, are expecting. Joey quickly becomes infatuated with their neighbor Tom Fitzwilliam, a new headmaster charged with improving the local school. Her crush only intensifies when Alfie suggests having a baby, and Joey begins to suspect her marriage was a mistake. Meanwhile, Tom’s wife, Nicola, struggles to fill her days and remains oblivious to their son, Freddie, who regularly spies on his neighbors and the village’s teenage schoolgirls, taking their photos and keeping a detailed log of everyone’s activities. This surveillance exacerbates the paranoia and mental illness of another neighbor, the mother of 16-year-old Jenna, one of Tom’s students. Jenna’s mother is convinced that she knows the Fitzwilliam family from a vacation incident years earlier (and that the family is now stalking her), but Jenna is more concerned that Tom may be having an inappropriate relationship with her best friend. After several months, tension in the neighborhood explodes, and Joey is suspected of a brutal murder. However, as the police gather evidence, it becomes clear how many secrets each family has been hiding. Jewell (Then She Was Gone, 2017, etc.) adeptly weaves together a complex array of characters in her latest thriller. The novel opens with the murder investigation and deftly maintains its intensity and brisk pace even as the story moves through different moments in time over the previous three months. Jewell’s use of third-person narration allows her to explore each family’s anxieties and sorrows, which ultimately makes this novel’s ending all the more unsettling.

An engrossing and haunting psychological thriller.” Kirkus Review

So many twist and turns, this book will make you dizzy. Fantastic read!

 

The Dark Bones (Dark Lure #2) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: May 25, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

Review –

In The Dark Bones, Detective Rebecca North returns home to her small town because of her father’s suicide. She immediately decides that her father who was a retired cop would not have taken his own life, although everyone in town thinks otherwise. To make things more difficult, the man who broke her heart, Ash Haugen is at the center of the investigation in the worst way. Secrets from their past regarding the disappearance of two teens seem to have something to do with all of it. And here in present day, two other teens are also somehow involved. The more Rebecca digs, the harder it is for her to trust anyone. In addition, she and Ash still have feelings for each other. The town seems to be made up of complicated relationships at all levels. Plus, there are a couple of killers on the loose that no one suspects. Since it’s truly a mystery, that’s about all I can say. Nothing is what it seems.

I really enjoyed The Dark Bones and I never had a clue as to what would happen next. The whole book is just one huge puzzle that you have to play out to the very end. The pace was smooth and there is never a dull moment. I look forward to reading more books from this author.