Caught by Harlan Coben

Book Description:

Published: March 23, 2010

Format: Audio/OverDrive

17 year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.

Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.

Review –

This book will grip you tightly around the throat just after the first sentence and won’t let go until the end.

I knew opening that red door would destroy my life.

There are so many things going on in this book, the disappearance of a seventeen year old girl,  and a man being cast as a pedophile, but is he?  He is one of five Princeton roommates who have had their lives destroyed in the last year. Who is behind it?

What really happened to Haley and is it connected to Dan Mercer?

So many questions, but I’ll never tell. If you want to know, you really need to pick up this stand alone novel by Harlan Coben. You will not be disappointed.

Fantastic!!

 

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The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Book Description:

Published: August 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

“The Dollhouse. . . . That’s what we boys like to call it. . . . The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you.”

Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.”

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Review –

In The Dollhouse, debut novelist Fiona Davis begins with a simple premise. But as the book advances, through alternating looks at Rose’s world in 2016 and Darby’s in 1952, the story becomes increasingly complex. Davis layers on relationships and intrigue, while building tension through her story structure. Each glimpse at Darby’s world leaves both Rose and the reader yearning for more, and eager to understand exactly what shaped the ladies at this women’s residence. The pace quickens as the story hurtles to its surprising—but satisfying—end. 

Fantastic book full of twists and turns and sub-plots and makes for a great Summer read!

Five stars.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

The foundation of the story rests with the disappearance in 1935 of Emily, a six-year-old child, and the resulting destruction of a family unit when the child is not found. As the story opens, it is the end of the 20th century and Lucy, the last living member of the family, writes the story of the tragedy, set during the summer of 1935 at a remote area in northern Minnesota that is the gathering spot for summer and weekend vacations. Its residents arrive at the beginning of summer and leave with the onset of autumn. They are all known to one another, and their relationships ebb and flow. 

Knowing that she is dying, Lucy feels compelled to explain the mystery of Emily’s disappearance as it unfolded that summer. She has made arrangements to leave the home and property that she and her older sister, Lilith, have lived in until the last of their family has died out, to a grandniece, Justine, who is Lilith’s granddaughter. Her journal story is written in the first person and immerses us into that long-ago summer.

With each alternating chapter, we follow Justine as she migrates from San Diego to Williamsburg, Minnesota, with her two daughters. The move is fraught with anguish as Justine leaves her live-in boyfriend, packs the few belongings she and the girls have, and sets out to learn about her inheritance. Her story is told in the third person.

Young is skilled at creating tension and conflict both in the journal (Lucy) chapters and in the Justine chapters.

 Her characters are vivid and come to life as the story unfolds.

Justine’s mother, Maurie, is a hippy-style mother who disappears and then reappears every few years when her life falls apart and she needs financial support. When she learns that Justine has inherited the family summer home, she comes sniffing around searching for anything she can sell for profit. She is a woman older than she believes herself to be and her boisterous and flirtatious ways create pain and embarrassment for Justine.

Patrick, Justine’s boyfriend, is a manipulative man, set on controlling Justine’s life and that of her daughters. She left him with no indication where she was going, but she knew he would find her and come for her . . . and he does.

The characters in Lucy’s journal are equally complex in their relationships with one another. The two older daughters just emerging into their teens, Lilith and Lucy, are inseparable, while the younger child, Emily, is held close and pampered by their mother.

The parents are estranged: the father, a pharmacist in town, comes to the summer home on weekends with his religious bellowing; the mother expresses an overpowering attachment to Emily and a distance from her husband.  

Matthew and Abe Miller are the sons of the man who owns the lodge in the vacation area where tourists come and reside for short periods of time. The boys are mixed race, part white, part Indian, and while the lodge is accepted as a gathering point for the summer residents, the fathers watch the boys with a careful eye. These two characters travel back and forth between the journal, as young men, and Justine’s story as old men.

In Lucy’s journal, Young expresses the angst of young boys and girls as they are entering adulthood and the dances they do around one another with varying degrees of results. She is equally good at reflecting the anger of Justine’s two young daughters who have been ripped away from the small amount of stability they had in San Diego, as they are relocated to a cold, northern, unforgiving environment in Minnesota.

Both stories travel a parallel path of pain with the summer of 1935 heading toward a tragic end and the winter of the end of the 20th century heading on a collision course of battered relationships.

Young drops hints throughout Lucy’s chapters as to what really happened to Emily that summer and in two thrilling scenes packed with tension at the end, she pitches several situations only hinted at earlier, but activities that nonetheless prove vital to the final result. She cleverly draws these parallel stories together as Justine resolves issues and takes her place as the strong protagonist she is meant to be.

Five stars!  Fantastic read.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

Justine is living in a shabby apartment with her two daughters and live in boyfriend,Patrick, who is VERY controlling so when an attorney calls saying that her great-aunt Lucy has left her a house and a stock portfolio of $150,000.00, she packs the basics, picks up the girls from school, and starts the long drive to Minnesota.

In her mind the summer-house on the lake looks the way it did when she was nine years old. It was the only Summer she was there and the only time she met Lucy. When they arrive, it is Winter in Minnesota and the house is drab, falling apart and in desperate need of a full restoration.  The inside is not much better with the rooms heated by radiators fueled by a propane tank only one-third full and a stove in the kitchen so old the oven can not be fixed. Meals have to be made on top of the stove or in the microwave.  Justine’s only comfort is that maybe Patrick won’t be able to find them since she told no one where she was going and she left her cell phone behind.

The only neighbors are brothers who were childhood friends of her grandmother, Lilith and great-aunt Lucy, who now run the Lodge for the Summer people. Abe is a bit slow so doesn’t venture out much so Matthew is the one  the Evans girls sees most and they all consider him “creepy”.

There is a box of composition books full of stories written by Lucy, all dealing with the little sister, Emily, who went missing in the summer of 1935. There is also another composition book with the truth behind Emily’s disappearance, but Justine doesn’t know about it until almost the end of the book.

I won’t tell you what happened to Emily or if Patrick shows up, or about the fire  so you’ll have to read the book to find out. There is so much more to this story than just a missing child!

It is a fantastic book and I couldn’t stop listening,

Five stars *****

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Book Description:

Published: November 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

 

Review –

This wasn’t as good as I thought it would be and I really did not like the character of Shelby. Granted, she went through a horrendous ordeal, but get a grip, girl and move on!

I knew she was just stringing Ben along and when she dumped him for the vet, I knew she would regret it. The vet was just too good to be true. I did like James from the very beginning and think he and Shelby match and cried when I read that he hadn’t given her the tattoo she wanted, but instead, a black butterfly, which had a very special meaning.

The ending was perfect. They pack up and head to California with no hint from the author of an hea. Now, that is real life!

 

 

 

Four Letter Word (Dirty Deeds #1) by J. Daniels

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words “wrong number” in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend’s heart but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he’s quickly come to hate-until Sydney’s wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .

Review –

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I  LOVE this book!!

If you’re a fan of sexy, tortured Alpha heroes who will make you combust with their hotness, break your heart with their pain, and then melt you with their sweetness, this is the book for you! 

This is the first in the Dirty Deeds series by J. Daniels and I had read the second one first, which  was Hit the Spot,(are you with me?) Jamie McCade was the male focal point in it and I hated his surfer dude character. In this book he plays a minor role and is much more likable so maybe I should have read the books in order. Who knew?

The male character in Four Letter Word is Brian (Dash) Savage and he is a honey. When Syd calls his number by mistake and chews his ass out thinking he was the man who broke the heart of her best friend by lying about being married, he was captivated by her sass and heat. A couple of days later he texted her and so their phone relationship started. He is going through a very rough patch, feeling guilt for an accident that put a young boy in a wheel chair. He’s been doing porn to make extra money to give to his family for the medical and care bills. But once he decided Syd is for him he quits but the films on the internet for anyone to see, Of course he hadn’t told her and of course she finds out. That was almost the end of their relationship but with the help of his sister the film company owner was persuaded to take the movies down. The book ends with an hea and it was perfect.

Sebastian York did the narration for Brian’s part and it was swooney. (I know, not a word, but it should be.)

This is fantastic book and I highly recommend the audio version, but the e-book would be almost as good, but  you wouldn’t be listening to Sebastian’s sexy voice.

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Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: June 30, 2015

Only on audio! A brand-new, never-before-published Stephen King short story unavailable in any other format!

Alden McCausland and his mother are what they call “accident rich”; thanks to an unexpected life-insurance policy payout and a winning Big Maine Millions scratcher, Alden and his Ma are able to spend their summers down by Lake Abenaki, idly drinking their days away in a three-room cabin with an old dock and a lick of a beach.

Across the lake, they can see what “real rich” looks like: the Massimo family’s Twelve Pines Camp, the big white mansion with guest house and tennis court that Alden’s Ma says is paid for by “ill-gotten gains” courtesy of Massimo Construction. When Alden’s holiday-weekend sparklers and firecrackers set off what over the next few years comes to be known as the Fourth of July Arms Race, he learns how far he and the Massimos will go to win an annual neighborly rivalry—one that lands Alden in the Castle County jail.

Read by beloved Down East storyteller Tim Sample—praised by Stephen King for his “wit and talent and good-heartedness”—Drunken Fireworks makes for explosive audio listening.

Review –

Fantastic short story about the trials and tribulations of one-upmanship (my made up word for the day.

The characters were brought to life by narrator, Tim Sample, who did a magnificent job with the Maine dialect and made listening to the story a real pleasure. So like Stephen King, you never see the end coming. I loved it!!!

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Silent Love (The Love Series #1) by Casey Clipper

Book Description:

Published: June 27, 2014

Former Navy SEAL Sean Millen has been perfectly fine with his bachelorhood until recently, when he realizes he’s unhappy with his single status. Unfortunately, his playboy reputation doesn’t offer him the type of woman that could fulfill his days and nights as well as settle into the specific life he envisions.

Four years ago, Beth Connors’ world was entirely altered. Beth spends her days trying to remain invisible in order to avoid unwanted attention. Each night she sheds grief-filled tears over the former life she once led but will never be able to regain.

When Beth literally runs into him. Doctor Sean Millen. A force of nature. A rock. A reputable heartbreaker, who takes an immediate interest in her, there’s no place for her to hide. But Beth’s natural instinct to push Sean away to save herself and him from the difficult task of adjusting their lives to her shortcomings is always front and center. Yet, Beth secretly longs for love. Is she strong enough to tear down the walls of her self-imposed prison?

Sean finds himself falling for a woman who is determined to reject his every advance and deny their surprisingly deep connection. Can Sean push past Beth’s concrete walls that she refuses to destroy? Or will Beth’s shocking revelation of her past prevent them from finding the love they both deserve? Or will a tragic accident pull Sean and Beth apart permanently?

*This is not a cliffhanger.
**Not suitable for under 18 years old. Contains sexual scenes.

Review –

This is the first book in The Love Series.  I loved it. 

This is what the author has to say about the book:

“I absolutely love Sean and Beth in Silent Love. There is something special about this couple. First, Sean is the ultimate alpha male. He’s protective, ruthless in his love for Beth, loyal to his brother and Beth, and unflappable in almost any circumstance-except when it comes to his heroine- as well as encouraging and supportive of her. I also love the age difference of this couple. Sean is edging closer to forty, has a career that isn’t the typical billionaire but can easily provide for his love interest. Beth is in her late twenties with a steady career that she excels. Their age difference is brought up as part of a potential issue in their relationship but they work through that issue. (Well, I should say Sean scoffs at her concern.) I love these characters inner strength. Especially Beth’s, after the accident she’d been through, she doesn’t realize how much strength she truly possesses, which is one of the reasons Sean is completely enthralled with her. Their story is a true romance plagued with drama that makes you want to root for them as a couple and individually.”

If you are a fan of contemporary erotic romances -you need  to try this series.

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The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Book Description

January 8, 2013 
Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and Looking for Alaska, Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author, calls Elizabeth LaBan’s The Tragedy Paper “a beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak.”It follows the story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, VanessaSheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their secrets.

Review –
This was recommended to me by my Assistant Professor daughter who specializes in children’s and young adult literature as a “Wintery Themed Book” and I was hooked from the first few pages. It’s a poignant story told in two points of view, a current student, who happens to be an albino, and a former student that had the same room in a private school, the year before. The story includes forbidden romance, a tragic accident, friendships and relationships and I rated it five stars *****. Truly perfect to read on a cold wintery day with a cup of hot chocolate.
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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book Description:

Published: May 13, 2014

 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

 

Review –

I really didn’t know how to feel about this book when I first started listening to it, but it was only five discs long so what did I have to lose?

It involves a private island, three sisters of a demanding, dominating father and three cousins, all rich and one boy who is not but is allowed to come to the island also during the summer months. They have good time and bad times and times that Cadence, the protagonist,  can’t remember because of the severe migraine headaches she suffers as the result of an accident the summer of her 15th year. After the accident she isn’t allowed to go back to the island because of her fragile condition and headaches. She sends emails to her two cousins which are never answered and wonders why Gat, the boy she loves from New York hasn’t been to see her.  Finally she is there on the island  again at the age of seventeen enjoying  their company and having her aunts, Grandfather and other cousins tip toeing around her. Why, she wonders?

The story deals with teen angst, issues of class and race and mostly on the dysfunctional family that she is a part of and has such a profound effect on her and her missing memories.

The ending was one that I did not see coming and made me cry. I had to pull over (I was listening to this in my car while running errands) until I could get a grip. This is another book that will haunt me for a very long time.

I rated this book 5 stars *****

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