Disgrace by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: June 28, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again.

After fifteen years together, he walked away from me, and into the arms of another.

I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know how to exist without him by my side.

All I wanted was for him to come back to me.

Then, Jackson Emery appeared.

He was supposed to be a distraction for my mind. A summer fling. A confidence boost to my bruised heart.

We were perfect for one another, because we both knew we wouldn’t last. Jackson didn’t believe in commitment, and I no longer believed in love. He was too closed-off for me, and I was too damaged for him.

Everything was fine, until one night my heart skipped a beat.

I didn’t expect him to make me laugh. To make me think. To make my sadness somewhat disappear.

When our time was up, my heart didn’t know how to walk away.

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again, yet slowly my prayers began to shift toward the man who wasn’t right for me.

I prayed for one more smile, one more kiss, one more laugh, one more touch…

I prayed for him to be mine.

Even though I knew his heart wasn’t destined to love.

Review –

First and foremost, Disgrace is the story of a woman who has suffered horribly in her marriage – going home to find herself. After multiple (seven, to be exact) miscarriages, gut-wrenching betrayal, and an impending divorce, the heroine, Grace, doesn’t really know who she is anymore. She’s lived her life as the perfect daughter, the perfect community member, the perfect wife, and where has it gotten her? Going through a divorce at 30 with nothing to show for her marriage but damaged self-esteem and a douchebag ex.

What I loved most about Grace was that even though she was struggling to find herself and still kind of wanted to be the people-pleaser she’d been raised to be, she wasn’t ever weak. Confused, sure. But not weak. She never turned her back on Jackson, the hero, or his family, even though doing so would’ve made her life considerably easier. She was broken, but not beaten, and when push came to shove, she was a good person and a solid friend to Jackson. Her strength of character was nothing short of inspirational.  

And Jackson…oh, honey. My heart just broke for him. He’d lost his mother, his dad was the town drunk, everyone called him a monster, and he was stuck in a town where charity and kindness seemed available to everyone but him. And worst of all, he couldn’t leave because he’d promised his mom (on her deathbed, no less), that he’d take care of his father.

The ‘Prologue’ is where we first meet ten year old ‘Jackson Emery’ as he learns one of life’s heartbreaking lessons when he sees his mother walking out the door proclaiming that she’s not in love with his father any more. Life from that point onwards forever changes him and his father. 

So, here’s this (inwardly) sweet, gentle man stuck living a miserable lonely life in an awful town and pretending to be a complete asshole so that no one would ever know just how much their cruel nicknames and petty gossip really hurt him. He’s exactly what Grace says he is: a gentle monster. I loved every single word written from this gentle monster’s point of view. He was FLAWLESS.

Did he treat Grace badly in the beginning? Yes, he said some awful things to her. But his actions contradict his words, and it didn’t take long for Grace (and me as a reader) to see what a good man Jackson really is. Jackson is officially on my list of all-time favorite book boyfriends. (His former manwhore ways are completely forgiven)

There are so many other things I could say but I don’t post spoilers. There is sadness, frustration, a huge surprise twist and redemption.

So, long-story-short, if you love an emotional, deeply touching romance that’ll make you cry a little because it’s all so beautiful and so REAL, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.                   

 

 

What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

Family is not what it seems in this raw, edgy thriller that New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline says “you won’t be able to put down.”

When a mutilated body is found hanging in a seedy motel in Philadelphia, forensics specialist Liam Dwyer assumes the crime scene will be business as usual. Instead, the victim turns out to be a woman he’d had an affair with before breaking it off to save his marriage. But there’s a bigger problem: Liam has no memory of where he was or what he did on the night of the murder.

Panicked, Liam turns to his brother, Sean, a homicide detective. Sean has his back, but incriminating evidence keeps piling up. From fingerprints to DNA, everything points to Liam, who must race against time and his department to uncover the truth – even if that truth is his own guilt. Yet as he digs deeper, dark secrets come to light, and Liam begins to suspect the killer might actually be Sean …

When the smoke clears in this harrowing family drama, who will be left standing?

Review –

“As young boys, Sean and Liam survived traumas that no child should endure. After the death of their father, their mother’s mental instability nearly cost Liam his life. However, older brother Sean saved him, creating an unbreakable bond between the brothers. Liam has always looked up to Sean and sought his guidance. Sean, never able to sustain a relationship with a woman, has been Liam’s rock, the charismatic leader in which Liam and fellow members of the force put their trust.

The story starts strong with Liam unable to remember where he went or what he did during the prior evening, and then being summoned to the site of the horrid murder. He is shocked when he arrives on scene and discovers that the victim is none other than Kerri, the woman with whom he had an affair. Liam loved Kerri, but he has committed to trying to make his marriage to Vanessa work. They are attending counseling and Vanessa appears fully invested in their relationship. Aside from Vanessa, only Sean and his partner, Don, knew about Liam’s relationship with Kerri. In the wake of her death and his inability to remember the events of the night she was killed, Liam of course turns to Sean for help. Sean assures Liam that he can rely on Sean. “We only have each other, Liam. So because of that, we only have each other to count on. I’ll be there for you, and you be there for me. Got it?”

When Liam’s fingerprints and DNA are found at the murder scene, and he discovers his bloody clothes in the trunk of his vehicle, his panic is palpable and credibly depicted by Farrell. Liam wracks his brain in an attempt to remember the events of the evening, and worries that he is losing his mind. Worse, he confronts the question of whether he could have committed such an unthinkable crime. He is convinced that he does not have the capacity — even in some form of altered state — to be violent, much less a killer. Through it all, he leans on Sean, telling him, “I think I’m being framed, Sean. It’s the only explanation.” He shares details of his own investigation, as he frantically tries to gather evidence of his innocence.

When mounting evidence points toward him, Liam runs, but Sean tries to convince him to surrender. Farrell believably details both Liam’s increasingly desperate mental state, as well as the breakdown in trust between the brothers when Liam discovers evidence that points directly at Sean. Forced to consider that his own brother has set him up to take the fall, Farrell inserts heart-breaking and shocking details that propel the story forward and heighten reader interest.

As Sean gradually unravels, Farrell capably takes readers on Liam’s pulse-pounding and heartbreaking journey to the truth. The result is a thriller that is, overall, enjoyable, and may inspire readers to ponder their own familial relationships after Farrell reveals the brothers’ ultimate fate.” jhsiess.com

Great read!

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 Breath by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

One woman will stop at nothing to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Chasing disasters around the globe keeps humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews away from her own ground zero. Now, after sixteen years in jail for the murder of her stepmother in small-town Tennessee, Gia’s father has come home to die of cancer. And she’s responsible for his care.

Resuming the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer means confronting the past she’s spent over a decade avoiding. But in the end, the truth about what really happened may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

Review –

Have you ever thought that you would give anything to know the truth about a situation and then when you do find that truth, wish you hadn’t? That, for me sums up this debut novel by Kimberly Belle.

This book is a thought provoking dramatic undertaking that takes a decade old crime and uses it to dissect and examine the characters who all were affected by it.  While the mystery is a strong base the story is built on, I found the character dynamics far more prevalent. A trio of siblings, torn apart by their stepmother’s death and father’s conviction of the crime must come together and finally deal with the past and their own feelings towards their father and each other. The author combines a blend of humor,  sorrow, and compassion as she tells us a story of love, loss, jealousy, guilt, and forgiveness. Using the past and the present, Belle guides us down a long twisting road, letting us form our own opinions about what happened as we listen to the victims recollections of what happened and the accounts of all those left behind to question and wonder.

Fantastic read!

 

 

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first 30-40% of the novel; it takes its time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I love. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist, Anna, and his second wife, Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

It’s like reading a Twilight (the television show) episode with a bit of Gaslight (the movie) thrown in and a bonus of several twists.

Great read.

 

The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A stunning story of secrets and scandal, identity and infidelity
 When Tabby Dewhurst arrives heartbroken and penniless on a picturesque, windswept island off the coast of France, her luck appears to change when she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door. Hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the woman to leave and then lets herself into the house. And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emily Marr—or so her new friend introduces herself. Soon, however, Tabby forms suspicions about her new friend, suspicions that lead her back to England, and to revelations that will have explosive consequences for both of them.

Review –

Running from a broken relationship and low on cash, Tabby finds herself in a little village off the Coast of France. While wandering the streets wondering where she can sleep, she overhears an English woman repeating her access code to her apartment. As the woman appears to be heading off somewhere with a large bag, Tabby seizes the opportunity and lets herself in.

Meanwhile, the book splits into two stories, Tabby’s and the apartment owner’s, Emmie.
The two women become unexpected flatmates and unlikely friends. Emmie obviously has a story to tell but it is only through snooping and surfing the internet that Tabby can try to discover what is making her so reclusive and withdrawn.

The girl’s stories are set in both France and England and while there are some similarities in their lives, the reader starts to wonder if it’s a good thing that they met at all?

This is a wonderfully warm novel with a nice easy pace and enough bite to make you want to keep reading. The character of Emily Marr is well described and you genuinely feel like you may know her and why she chooses to disappear. The descriptions of her life before the disappearance are well thought out and give her some depth which I think is needed for the main storyline.

The character, Nina, is hateful. Angry, bitter and hell bent on revenge she doesn’t care who she mows down on the way. Her anger hops off the pages and becomes quite understandable as the story unfolds.

This is a great  read, full of surprises, wonderful writing and would be ideal for bookclub discussions. It also has Reading Group Questions at the end which is a nice bonus. The only fault I would have is the lack of description of the French island. I would have liked to get a bit more of the sense of the place, the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere. Other than that ,a great book with a surprising twist.

This mystery is sad yet intriguing, a definite page turner! This isn’t regular chick lit, it’s on a different level with the mystery angle.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: March 5, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

Review –

I absolutely love how Peter Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it.

I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I hated when I had to take a break from listening to do something mundane.Then our of nowhere comes a  major plot twist that  left me reeling.Some may see it as a  pure gimmick, but I thought it was genius. 

This is a psychological thriller, but with just a  bit suspenseful. It’s a story of perversion, cruelty, and deceit. The author skillfully uses it all to keep readers off kilter and breathless to the very last page.  

I have loved every Peter Swanson novel I’ve listened to and I can’t wait for his next book. Mr. Swanson, write faster!!

Five stars.

 

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Review –

I loved his book, even though it did become a bit monotonous with Cass bemoaning the murder on Blackwater Road all the time and that made her become a victim easier.

I won’t go into detail because it would be easy to give the ending away, but know this, it’s not what you initially think. It’s not cut and dried. There are misdirections and all of this makes for a class A “who-dun-it mystery”. 

I highly recommend  this book if you enjoy this genre.

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!!!

Sweetheart (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #2) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 2, 2008

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Portland detective Archie Sheridan, the former head of the Beauty Killer Task Force, hunted Gretchen Lowell for years before she kidnapped him, tortured him, and then let him go. Now that she is behind bars, Archie is finally piecing his life back together. He’s returned home to his ex-wife and their two children. But no matter how hard Archie tries, he just can’t stop thinking about Gretchen!

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the first corpse he discovered there a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. Then, the unthinkable happens: Gretchen escapes from prison, and once the news breaks, all of Portland goes on high alert; but secretly, Archie is relieved. He knows he’s the only one who can capture Gretchen and now he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all. Even if it means becoming her last victim!

Review –

In Sweetheart Archie’s best friend and detective, Henry, as well as his wife step in and stage a whole intervention scene. They are severing all ties between Archie and Gretchen. Henry explains that they are moving her to a place far out of his reach and banning all phone calls and visits with her. It doesn’t matter that every time Archie visits her she gives up another name of another victim. It’s just not worth it anymore.

This novel opens up with the shuffling of transporting Gretchen from one prison to another, in which she escapes. Archie knows she will kill anyone, especially those who are important to Archie. She will kill anyone to get his attention.  She wants him and she will not stop until she has him all to herself. With so many people Archie cares for there are a lot of people she can come after to gain his attention. But Gretchen isn’t playing games anymore. After a few leads that send the detective all over the city yet seem to get them nowhere to finding her, Gretchen comes directly for Archie and he goes to her willingly.

With Archie missing, our favorite reporter Susan Ward is back in action. Of course, she never left the action of trying to find the real scoop on the U.S. senator who seduced his children’s babysitter a decade ago. Only he’s dead and the babysitter is too. Susan worries her story is long gone? Until she finds a connection between the dead bodies that seem to be popping up everywhere and the sex scandal? Working with Henry trying to find Archie, Susan struggles with who to trust with the clues that she keeps uncovering about the other case she is working on.

The story goes back and forth between Archie’s relationship with his captor and Susan’s struggle to piece together all the parts of more than one head-scratching case.  I found the book a bit sluggish at times and felt that Cain was not doing as great a job at holding my attention with this installment of her Gretchen Lowell series.  The tension in this book was not up to par compared to her first book and the gory details of the previous book was traded for some lewd scenes between Archie and Gretchen ( we find out that Archie and Gretchen were having an affair before she kidnapped and tortured him and no one know but just the two of them.). Cain does however utilize the multiple plots going on in the book quite well and is easily switched from one to the other. I give kudos to Cain for incorporating the psychological complexities to the relationship between Archie and Gretchen as well as keeping the main characters busy with moving the storyline in the right direction. Though I feel the book could have been a wee bit better it was still a page turner (Archie tries to commit suicide while handcuffing Gretchen to the stairs in a cabin in the middle of a wild fire) for the most part.  It’s believable or as believable as one who’s never experienced a psycho serial killer can be and I am totally looking forward to the third installment, Evil at Heart.  I have it on hold on OverDrive but there are two people ahead of me.

Excellent read!