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.

 

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!

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

The Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #1) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Triggers: Yes

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.
And I’m the girl who got in their way.

Review –

OMG….I dont even know where to start with this one!! There are NO words! I’m totally #abraygirlforlife !

What do you get when you pair a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with three bad boys who run the town? The answer is: a world that you crave to live in. Boys you salivate over. A girl who is tough as nails, takes no BS from anyone. You get the most amazing story with EVERYTHING. Raven, Maddoc (new book boyfriend), Royce and Captain are just amazing characters, that the author effortlessly makes you fall in love with. All four strong, fierce, loyal and independant. They have a way of getting under you skin and living there.

I had the audio version and listened to it almost in one sitting. I just had to know WTF was going on. The author kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, just waiting for that moment that my jaw would hit the damn floor and pause my listening device and just TRY to slow my heartbeat!  And when it did, boy did I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m so invested in this world, in these characters, in this story.

The level of angst in this book (which is OFF THE CHARTS) had my head spinning and my mind going all over the place. Readers will be in a continual state of “what the actual F***”, then jumping to “oh he** no”, all while their hearts will be racing and their mind will be swimming with questions.

There is so much that goes on in this book that I can not do it justice, so invest in a copy (written or audio) and hang on for the ride of your life. it has drama plus revelations you don’t see coming. There are hot steamy sex scenes and one that will have you blushing from head to toe!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I loved it?

 

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.

 

The Wanted (Joe Pike #6, Elvis Cole #17) by Robert Crais

Book Description:

Published: December 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 3

It seemed like a simple case before the bodies starting piling up. Investigator Elvis Cole and his partner, Joe Pike, take on the deadliest case of their lives, in the new masterpiece of suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author

When single mother Devon Connor hires private investigator Elvis Cole, it’s because her troubled teenage son Tyson is flashing cash and she’s afraid he’s dealing drugs. But the truth is devastatingly different. With two other partners in crime, he’s been responsible for a string of high-end burglaries, a crime spree that takes a deadly turn when one of them is murdered and Tyson and his girlfriend disappear.

They stole the wrong thing from the wrong man. Determined to get it back, he has hired a team that is smart and brutal, and to even the odds, Cole calls in his friends Joe Pike and Jon Stone. But even they may be overmatched. The hired killers are leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. A few more won’t make any difference.

Review –

“In the latest Elvis Cole book, a teenager involved in a series of high-end burglaries is pursued by a murderous, wisecracking duo—possibly dirty cops—hired to recover a stolen laptop.

Along with his dicey new friends, Alec and Amber, with whom he’s smitten, 17-year-old Valley boy Tyson Connor has been stashing away tens of thousands of dollars from selling stolen items, including watches and jewelry. His mother, Devon, knows he’s in some kind of trouble but thinks he may be dealing drugs. After Tyson disappears, she hires Cole to find him. The coldblooded bad guys don’t hesitate to kill people, including a busboy who gave them information about Alec and Amber and an elderly regular at a flea market where the young crooks sold their loot. With the LA cops on his case, as usual, and his regular associate Joe Pike providing backup, the private eye and Devon are able to make contact with Tyson electronically. When Devon texts her son that Alec has been murdered, Amber convinces him that his mom is making up stories to get him back—but a text from Cole about the flea-market lady’s death, coupled with some Googling, makes Tyson wonder. Among West Coast mystery writers, none is more reliable than Crais, who is in excellent form here. Though he makes his villains a bit too much of a comedy duo—the violence is oddly muted as a result—it’s difficult to resist an exchange in which they argue over the use of the music from the shower scene in Psycho as a ringtone.

In his 21st book, Los Angeles ace Crais (The Promise, 2015, etc.) extends his streak of sharp, enjoyable thrillers.” Kirkus Review 

I usually loved Elvis Cole novels but this one fell a bit short for me. The teenagers turned the book into a three ring circus and I would have preferred that Joe Pike had a bigger part, but that’s just me!

Twist Me (The Complete Series) by Anna Zaires

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 2

“Will you ever let me go?”
“No, Nora,” he replies, and I can feel his smile in the darkness. “Never.”

On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Nora Leston meets Julian Esguerra, and her life changes forever. Stolen away to a private island, she finds herself at the mercy of a powerful, dangerous man whose touch makes her burn.

A man whose obsession with her knows no bounds.

Her enigmatic captor is as cruel as he is beautiful, yet it’s his tenderness that devastates her most. Drawn into his violent world, Nora must find a way to adapt and survive—and find light within the darkness.

Review –

Basically, here is what the book is about:

He sees her, he kidnaps her and he takes her to his deserted island. She’s under lock and key, but treated wonderfully (despite being held against her will). She has a female guardian (that cooks for her and keeps her company), while he’s away on “business”.  He doesn’t want to hurt her, but if she doesn’t obey, he’s got her ways of bringing her back in line,(which he intimidates her with many times).

But why her? Why would somebody like him (gorgeous, rich and seemingly in control) need to kidnap her? And who is he, exactly and what does he do for a living?

 There are some twists and turns, and a definite Stockholm syndrome/angsty love angle going on, but who knows where it will lead when all things are revealed. Sometimes these dark-reads don’t have your traditional HEA, you know

That being said, it  lacked that “extra dark mile” and it’s definitely on the lighter side of “dark” in comparison to some of the thrilling nightmares I’ve read in the past.

The series was a big disappointment for me and the female narrator was BAD and the author gave the female protagonist the backbone of a wet noodle. Don’t waste your time!

The Day She Cried by K. Webster

Book Description:

Published: October 17, 2017  

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

She was my first love.
She was my first hate.
The very sun in my world tried to burn me alive with her lies and cruelty.
Until I dimmed her light for good…
Or so I thought.

Now she’s back.
Cracked. Broken. Lost.
And for the first time in a long time, I feel free.
Free from our past. Free from my present that suffocates me. Free to destroy her future.

Her misery is my music.
Thrilling. Invigorating. Intoxicating.

For so long, all I’ve done is hate her.
So why do I love her?

Review –

I’m just going to get straight to the point. This story was raw, tragic, get-wrenching, beautiful, sad and so damn good! It deals with heavy things, love, loss, grief, hate, and the ugliness of how people can be. And it was also hot as hell!

The Day She Cried, told from dual points of view, is a dark romance about two lost, lonely and broken souls dealing with mistakes, abuse, revenge, secrets, loss, forgiveness and redemption. It deals with sensitive subjects like cyber-bullying, cutting and suicide. Both heart-wrenching and heart-warming, a story to stay with you.

It makes you stop and think about things and life, or how you treat people. If I could tell you more I would, but I don’t do spoilers and I truly believe people need to go into this book blindly.

Excellent read.

 

Good Girl,Bad Girl (Cyrus Haven #1) by Michael Robotham

Book Description:

Published: July 23, 2019

Format; Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity.

Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

Review –

Troubled psychologist Cyrus Haven has to evaluate a girl without a past while finding out who killed a rising young figure skater.

Evie Cormac is an enigma. No one knew who she was when she was found in a secret room in a north London home, weighing less than a child half her age, which was determined to be 11 or 12. Only a few feet from her hiding place was the decomposing body of a man who had been tortured to death.

Given a new name, she ended up in Nottingham’s Langford Hall, a high security children’s home, after a series of foster homes. Now, six years later, she’s eager to be declared an adult, so Cyrus must evaluate her for possible release. Evie is rude, unruly, self-destructive, prone to occasional violence, heartbreakingly naïve, and very, very broken. She also seems to be able to tell, with remarkable consistency, when someone is lying. This intrigues Cyrus, who wrote a thesis on human lie detectors, aka “truth wizards.” When Cyrus makes an impulsive choice to temporarily foster Evie, it brings a basket of challenges to his already complicated life.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is assisting his mentor, Chief Inspector Lenny Parvel, in the investigation of the suspicious death and possible rape of fifteen-year-old Jodie Sheehan, who was called the “golden girl of British skating.” Some shocking revelations lead Cyrus and the police down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets, and Evie can’t help but involve herself in the investigation. It’s the careful and often poignant interplay between Cyrus and Evie that elevates this page turner.

Cyrus’ parents and sisters were murdered when he was just a boy, and by all accounts Evie’s childhood was nothing short of hellish. Trauma unites them, but the author seeks to show that together, they might begin to heal. Readers will adore the brilliant hot mess that is Evie, and more than a few moments are breathtakingly sad, such as Evie’s confusion about her wrinkly fingers during a long bath…because she’s never in her life had one.

This was a fantastic read/listen (my second on Scribd’s free 30 day trial) and I will look for more from this author!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

n the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review –

Abigail Knight, the protagonist of this complex, emotionally intense debut novel by Christina McDonald is determined to get answers after her seventeen-year-old daughter, Olivia, who recently seemed unusually distracted and moody, is found, brain-dead and pregnant, at the bottom of an embankment below the ZigZag bridge in her hometown of Portage Point, Washington. Meanwhile, Abi manages the grief of seeing Olivia being maintained on life support just long enough to allow her granddaughter to live.

The chapters told from Olivia’s viewpoint in the months leading up to the accident, during which she struggles with friendships and romantic relationships while piecing together the truth about her absent father, convey the cadence and the awkward urgency of teenage thought and behavior without exaggerating it. Every carefully fleshed-out character behaves authentically, yielding a satisfying sense of tragedy rather than one of villainy. McDonald dives into the mother-daughter conflict without compromising the reader’s compassion for either of them. Fans of twisty domestic suspense novels will be rewarded.

A fantastic read and I can’t wait to delve into the author’s newest book, Behind Every Lie!