Midnight Son by James Dommek Jr.

Book Description:

Published: October 31, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

James Dommek, Jr., an Alaska Native writer and musician, sheds new light on a real-life mystery that pits Native American folklore against the US justice system. In the vast Alaskan Arctic, legend has it there once lived a mythic tribe—Iñukuns—that only existed in rumors and whispers. This changed forever when an actor-turned-fugitive, Teddy Kyle Smith, had an encounter that brought Iñukuns from myth to reality. Smith was an aspiring actor with a promising career until it all came quickly crashing down with a gunshot, a manhunt, bloodshed, and other frightful events.

The story of Smith’s tragic downfall has long haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story-tellers. Midnight Son is his journey in discovering who Teddy Kyle Smith was, what he did, and what he really saw. Along the way, listeners will experience the soul of the real Alaska as narrator Dommek, Jr. brings this multilayered and sprawling tale to life.

Review –

Teddy Kyle Smith, a retired Marine, started appearing in movies as Alaska’s fledgling film industry was just taking off. But, right after his mother’s mysterious death in Kiana, Smith became the subject of a manhunt.

Smith fled into the wilderness, then shot two hunters at a remote cabin. What he said later brought to life local legends. It also initiated a legal dispute that, at its heart, questions the idea of a trial by one’s peers, if one’s peers do not understand or believe those stories, passed down through generations.

Midnight Son, which quickly become a best-seller for the audiobook service Audible, is narrated by Alaskan writer and musician James Dommek Jr.

Dommek, the great-grandson of Iñupiaq storytellers, says Teddy Smith’s story is really several stories woven together.

I thought this book would be a true crime thriller, but it is surprisingly more. I learned about Alaskan folklore, culture, and story telling in a non-traditional voice. The crime parts seemed secondary to the development of the narrator and that became of greater interest. I wouldn’t recommend to just anybody but it had my attention the whole time. It also gave a much better view of what it’s like to live in the bush than all the television  shows out there glamorizing living off the grid.

Interesting 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.

 

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Book Description:

Published: August 10, 2010

Format: Audio/Library Book

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret. And hid her bruises. And stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father. And because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice–and ran for both their lives.

Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. And in this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, and cradles her son in her arms, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Because Bobby always said he would never let her go. And despite the flawlessness of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time…

Review –

“Frannie, a nurse, fell deeply in love with Bobby, a handsome New York cop who at the time seemed attractively “tasty and dangerous,” as well as kind and thoughtful. But after 17 years of marriage, Bobby has become more dangerous than appealing. Tired of being beaten up, and now coping with a broken nose, Fran takes her ten-year-old son Robert and flees their Brooklyn home. Helped by a women’s organization, she and Robert are given new identities and a new place to live: a duplex in Florida. Now known as Beth Crenshaw, Frannie also tries to make a new life for herself and Robert, whom she loves with a fierce and protective devotion. She finds a good friend in the resilient Cindy and a satisfying job as a visiting health aide. She grows close to her patients, especially Mrs. Levitt, a Holocaust survivor. But Frannie can’t relax her vigilance: Bobby has resources and investigating tools that might make it easy to find her, and so while her life is increasingly normal she dates Mike, Robert’s nice soccer coach she’s still afraid. The tension is nail-biting but nicely complemented by perceptive insights, as in Frannie’s meditation that “whenever I thought about leaving, I thought about leaving my house . . . balloon shades and miniblinds . . . mugs for the coffee . . . small things; routine, order that’s what kept me there for the longest time.” Inevitably, Bobby catches up with her and exacts a terrible revenge, but an appropriately bittersweet ending gives Fran, who’ll always wonder whether she was right to flee, a new love and life. Quindlen writes about women as they really are neither helpless victims nor angry polemicists, but intelligent human beings struggling to do what’s right for those they love and for themselves. A book to read and savor.” Kirkus Review

When I first started listening to this book I thought that at the end Fran would kill Bobby, what happened is much worse. When you’re done reading or listening you will be left thinking for a long time.

 

 

The Dazzling Heights (the Thousandth Floor #2) by Katharine McGee

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

All that glitters is not gold.

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

Review –

I love it when an author begins a sequel right where the preceding book leaves off and Katharine McGee did not disappoint.

Just like its predecessor, The Dazzling Heights is a character-driven story. The character developments are definitely something I really look forward to. I want to see how the characters moved on and if they learned anything from the incident. Avery was a character I liked in the first book. However, I’m not sure if I liked Avery in The Dazzling Heights. All her storyline focused on her relationship with Atlas. I was actually expecting more for Avery’s character development. I have to say though that Avery became more exciting toward the end of the book. Finally, some drama from Avery. 

Leda is the character I strongly disliked  the most at the end of the first book. At the beginning of this book, my feelings didn’t change. I still hated her. She was truly sly and cunning in order to get what she wanted. Although I have to say that I wasn’t expecting the development with Leda. While she didn’t become a completely different person, there was a lot of changes in her. I think having Watt by her side helped her a lot in realising what she did wrong in the first book.

Watt is still the same Watt in The Thousandth Floor. In this book you’d meet him a lot because he spent a lot of time with Leda – which leads to him developing feelings for her. I have to say that this new romantic development was totally fine. The transitions from “enemy” to romantic interest was done really well.

Rylin was my favourite girl in the first book. The scholarship was something I didn’t expect to happen. To have her in the same school with the others had drama written all over it. One of the biggest question I had for her was how was her relationship Cord going to be? Are they going to be friends again? Did Cord hate her? I really want them to be together. Aaaand I wasn’t disappointed! I liked how their relationship was played out in this book. I knew it would be impossible for them to get back together right away given the ending of the first book. I really liked Cord as a character I wish we got his POV in the next book.

One of the things I wished for this book was more Marielle. I was hoping that Marielle would play a bigger role in this book, but no! We got a new character instead. For me, Calliope was a very welcome addition to the story. She brought new dramas and excitement to the story. Although I have to say that with her being in love with Atlas, there were SO MANY mentions of Atlas which made me wish there was an Atlas POV.  Beyond Atlas, her backstory was very sad and helped you to understand where she was coming from. I wasn’t sure how to feel about her in the middle of the book, but at the end, I liked Calliope. Despite her con-artist activities there were many instances in the book where you got to see the real Calliope. I’m really excited on how she’s going to be in the next book.

Love this YA series!

Mind (Trinity Trilogy #2) by Audrey Carlan

Book Description:

Published: December 29, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the second highly anticipated erotic suspense novel in the Trinity Trilogy, Mind digs deep into the heart and psyche of Gillian and her stalker through dueling POVs.

While Chase and Gillian plan their wedding, follow them and the entire gang as the stalker acts out his revenge and plots his attack on Gillian, Chase, and their friends.

This book can be considered dark, erotic, and thrilling. As in Body (Trinity Trilogy Book 1) the issue of domestic violence plays heavily in the storyline, and Gillian experiences many disturbing flashbacks of the past, alongside tragedy the stalker brings to the present. There is also a lot of love, devotion, and friendship.

Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to language, graphic sexual content, and themes that some may find disturbing. MIND is book 2 of a three-part trilogy. Body (Trinity Trilogy – Book 1) must be read prior to reading MIND.

Review –

This book picks up just where Body left off, with Gillian Callahan excitedly preparing to marry the man of her dreams, the billionaire Chase Davis. What looked to be a happily ever after as all three of her soul sisters have also managed to find amazing men to fill out their lives is quickly thrown into question as the stalker who started hounding Gillian in Body makes a reappearance here.

With an impending wedding looming, pushed into an even faster time scheme by her impatient groom, Gigi has more than just the stress of planning a wedding on her plate. Her stalker has escalated his activities from mere threats to violent action that puts the very lives of her closest friends at risk. Mind is well-named as you will spend a great portion of the book trying to figure out just who the stalker might be, though it’s not too hard to figure out.

Again, I thought there were too many unnecessary sex scenes (sex just for the sake of sex), but maybe that’s just me.

 

The Twilight Wife by A. J. Banner

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare.

Review –

What if everything you remember is a lie?

A diving accident causes marine biologist Kyra Winthrop to lose her memory of the previous four years, and her husband Jacob tries to help her rebuild her life. The Twilight Wife is a psychological suspense thriller set in an isolated community called Mystic Island, and fans of the genre will already know what to expect.

Flashes of memory return to Kyra that don’t quite match up with what she’s been told. She and Jacob have a happy marriage, but why does she have memories of intense attraction to one of his friends? She and Jacob were trying for a child, but why is there a condom in her wallet? Who is the odd man on the island who seems to recognize her but refuses to say why? And why does she dream of a third diver in the accident, when all the newspaper accounts mention only her and Jacob being involved? Add to that the locale of a remote island, which has no Internet connection apart from the line Jacob managed to rig up for their home, and Kyra can turn to only a tiny circle of friends whom she barely remembers.

The Twilight Wife is a quick read/listen and finished it in one sitting. The twists and turns are packed right in, and to Banner’s credit, she doesn’t go overboard with the red herrings designed solely to build suspense.  The ending felt rushed, and the last two chapters seemed disconnected from the rest of the story and seemed to come from nowhere. But overall, it’s a fun and fast-paced read that’s a perfect weekend treat for fans of the genre, and i must admit-it is one of my favorites.

My favourite part of this novel was the atmosphere. The isolation of the island adds to the dreariness of the plot and as trouble ensues, a storm begins to brew on the island. I loved this use of pathetic fallacy and found myself completely absorbed into Kara’s struggle.  

Fantastic read!

Sick Girl by Rachel Hargrove

Book Description:

Published: March 15, 2018

Format: ARC/Free Digital Book

His wife always comes first. Until now.

Twenty-five year-old scrappy Aubrey is fed up with Tom, a married neurologist with two children. When he’s not shoving their relationship on the back burner, he’s canceling their dates. With a frightening health diagnosis looming over her shoulder, Aubrey concocts a desperate plan to have Tom forever.

Kill the wife. Take her place.

Befriending Tom’s successful, kind wife comes easy to Aubrey. However, the closer they become, the more doubts Aubrey has about following through. Then a shocking discovery changes everything…

Sick Girl is an addicting psychological thriller with a riveting unreliable narrator from debut author Rachel Hargrove. Get ready for twists, turns, and endless thrills. Coming March 2018! Sick Girl is a compelling novel that fans of You and Gone Girl will love.

Review –

Aubrey has cancer and is in love with Melissa’s husband, Tom. Tom and Melissa seem to have it all, but looks can be very deceiving. Melissa has cancer, or does she? Tom loves Melissa, or does he? Tom loves Aubrey or does he?

Aubrey thinks Tom is dragging his feet where their relationship is concerned so she is determined to take things into her own hands and kill Melissa but comes to like her and has a change of heart. Eventually she discovers that maybe she just imagined Tom being in love with her and sending her texts etc. and also discovers that he has been switching out Melissa’s supplements for caffeine and other OTC drugs that would be detrimental to her health.

Will Aubrey be able to convince Melissa that Tom is trying to poison her and what will happen to her in the end?

This was a great read from beginning to end and kept me guessing all the way. I love it when an author can make you THINK you understand what’s going on and in the next sentence has you completely changing your mind.

Loved it and the cover and highly recommend it.

I got this book free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

The Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

Book Description:

Published: February 24, 2015

In a matter of days, Peter McDowell loses everything he has worked so hard for—his wealth, his property, his livelihood as a star investment banker. And then it gets worse. The stock market crash not only plunges Peter into joblessness, it causes a rift in his marriage that he cannot repair. Stripped of everything, he has only one place to retreat: a lakeside cottage he inherited from his parents, who left most of their modest estate to Peter’s twin. With no other choice, the prodigal son goes home.

A beloved small-town doctor, a devoted family man, and a pillar of his community, Michael McDowell serves others without regard to personal gain. Only Peter knows how Michael manipulated their parents when the boys were young, ultimately driving Peter away. At first, he dreads seeing Michael again. But, to his surprise, their reunion is tender and real. Only later, as Peter mulls over his late mother’s journals, does the truth begin to emerge, as realization and panic begin to set in. Who is his twin? Is the façade real, or does something terrifying lie beneath? Imagination or a reality too terrifying to believe?

In a race for time, Peter throws caution to the winds to find the truth. What he discovers will change their lives forever, the lives of their children, and an entire town.

Powerful, poignant, and filled with complex and layered characters, Prodigal Son is a riveting novel of secrets, salvation, and redemption from master storyteller Danielle Steel.

Review –

Not my favorite because of it’s predictability,  but it was a pleasant book to listen to while driving the highways and byways of Oklahoma.

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Deadline by Sandra Brown

Book Description:

Published: September 24, 2013

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he’s privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson’s career–one in which he has a vested interest.

Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia’s nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

Review –

I found it very hard to become invested in this book because after the prologue it was very slow in most parts and it bogged down. It does have two serious twists that I did not see coming and that made up for the slowness but on the whole I rated it three out of five stars. I listened to it driving back and forth to another town about 100 miles away for several days in a row,(husband had surgery)so I was stuck listening or I would have pulled my hair out.

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Speaking In Bones (Temperance Brennan #18) by Kathy Reichs

Book Description:

Published: July 21, 2015

For every case Temperance Brennan has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases.

One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby.

When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead.

Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-changing  proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.

Review –

Although I enjoyed the book, I was expecting better.

I thought Ryan’s proposal would have more importance in the story than it did. I know Tempe loves him and yes, he has hurt her more than once, but I still believe she wants a life with him. Maybe marriage is not the answer, right now, and that’s exactly what happens at the end of the book. Tempe and Ryan are looking at condos in Quebec and moving in together at Tempe’s suggestion. To see how it goes. I think she’s afraid of giving up her independence by marrying  or even moving in with him. She’s not happy about having to sell her condo and I think in future books we’ll find her content to continue status quo.

The hunt for the identity of the bones in the story was good and with the several twists turns made for enjoyable reading, but it wasn’t the kind that you couldn’t put down and sometimes was a bit on the dry side.

But I’m glad I read/listened to it and look forward to the next one.

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