Verity by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: December 7, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Review –

It’s interesting (and amazing) when an author explores writing something that is completely different from what we are used to seeing from them.  And it also helps that I love reading thrillers as well.  Keep in mind if you are here for the romance, although there is one in this book, it’s definitely darker and grittier and I don’t think it’s really intended to be “romantic”.

There’s a deep, dark secret that Verity Crawford has been hiding.  She’s been in a serious accident and her publisher hired author Lowen Ashleigh to finish writing the three books left in Verity’s hugely popular series.  But when Lowen moves into the Crawford home to go through series notes she discovers some sinister secrets about Verity and her family life.  And she can’t help but feel an undeniable attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy.

The great thing about this is that the whole book seemed pretty straight forward.  I mean, awful in some parts, but straight forward.  It had some creepy, nail biting moments but I didn’t feel the need to solve the mystery at any point.  I thought I had it figured out.  I should’ve known better and kept my mind engaged in gathering clues if there were any. I have to give the author credit for making me so wrapped up in the story that first off, I didn’t want to stop listening and second, I just experienced it as it came. The shocker will come at the very end of the story and yes, I didn’t see it coming, (love when that happens)  Also, I think that’s the morally grey point of the book.  Where you question the characters actions and think back on the what’s right and what’s wrong.  There is an HEA but it may feel like a questionable one for people that fall on one side of that moral spectrum than others.

Nevertheless, Verity was a thrilling and exciting ride.  It’s dark and horrific at times but I couldn’t not continue listening.  I really hope that Ms. Hoover writes more in this genre because I’m definitely here for that side of her.

Five HUGE stars!

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The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

Review –

Five stars!

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect of this short listen (only two hours and eighteen minutes long) but it was fantastic. I loved the premise and more so the character of Tony, the Dispatcher. I wish the author would have made a series of this book, but alas, it is not.

If you enjoy sci-fi with a mystery story line thrown in, this is the book for you.

 

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

Review –

When her best friend commits suicide after being dumped by a worthless man, Jane, a self-described sociopath, decides revenge will be slow and sweet.

In this suspenseful, creepy thriller, Jane travels to Minneapolis after her friend, Meg, commits suicide. Jane isn’t sure she herself has ever felt love, or any emotion other than hatred for her abusive family. But college roommate Meg gave Jane her best chance at seeing how normal people lived. When Meg became involved with Steven, though, she turned from a funny, bold woman into a submissive girl who accepted Steven’s cruel comments and control, until in her despair she killed herself. Now Jane has insinuated herself at Steven’s company. She pretends  to be just the sort of woman Steve wants—meek, mousy, and needy. It’s fascinating to hear Jane, who narrates the novel, comment on her plans and observations of others. The author does a fantastic job of creating in Jane a complex character, making her both scary and more than a little appealing. As the novel progresses, our view of Jane gradually shifts. Is Jane really a sociopath or the rare woman who doesn’t care what others think? And which of us wouldn’t at least dream of sweet revenge against those who cause such pain? Stone even provides the perfect ending, which can’t be commented on without ruining its perfection.

This beautifully balanced thriller will keep readers tense, surprised, pleased, and surprised again as a master manipulator unfolds her plan of revenge.

Fantastic  read !

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

From New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglascomes a new forbidden love story…

JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

Review –

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because I am a Birthday Girl too. Oh, not like Jordan, I was just lucky enough to be born on the 17th of this month.

Anyway, I LOVED this book. It is a taboo, forbidden romance with a large age gap. It involved Jordan, nineteen, her boyfriend Cole, also nineteen and his father Pike, who is thirty-eight. Because of circumstances the teens have to move into Pike’s house while they save money to get another place of their own. There is immediate sexual chemistry between Pike and Jordan and the story is told in their dual POV.

Pike fights hard against the attraction and temptation of Jordan because of what people will think but more importantly of how it would affect his son. Jordan fights too but when Cole cheats on her, she sees it as the perfect chance to see what would happen if she gave in.

Eventually they both give in and start sleeping together and Cole finds out and there is a separation. I’m not going to give away the ending but know that I cried a bucket load of tears. AND, the epilogue …!

This book is Five Stars and if you love a good forbidden romance, this one should be on the top of your TBR list.

 

Scandal in Fair Haven(Henrie O. #2) by Carolyn G. Hart

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 1994

Format: Audio/Audible

When Hart’s latest sleuth, 60-ish widow Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins, a.k.a. Henrie O, made her debut in Dead Man’s Island, readers everywhere were delighted. In this mystery, Henrie O returns in a classic, teasing puzzler.

Review –

“Just because Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins has retired from reporting the news doesn’t mean she’s retired from asking nosy questions; and when Craig Matthews stumbles into the Tennessee vacation cottage she was to share with his stricken aunt gasping that he didn’t kill his socialite wife, Patty Kay, she swiftly assumes the role of his aunt and takes up his cause. The deck is stacked against Craig — somebody went to a lot of trouble to lure him home to discover Patty Kay’s body — but Henrie O, alertly noticing that there are no footprints in the cheesecake (don’t ask), is sure that he’s innocent and turns instead to the town’s secrets, heralded by the incessant sniping of Fair Havenites. After pausing to note the obligatory adulteries — both Craig and Patty Kay were not only having active affairs but were worshiped from afar — Henrie O focuses on the links among Patty Kay’s death, the suicide of Walden School student Franci Hollis a day earlier, and the murder of a bookstore clerk who maybe remembered too much about the phone call that lured Craig back home. As before, serenely self-confident Henrie O proves a paragon of sturdy, old-fashioned detection. On the evidence here, Fair Haven must be the busiest, nastiest little hamlet in the galaxy.” Kirkus Review

 

Thought I’d start a new cozy mystery series, but while this one was okay, it didn’t pull me in enough to read the next one.

 

 

Killer by Nature by Jan Smith

Book Description:

Published: November 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Are we born evil, or do we have evil thrust upon us? This is the eternal question of nature vs nurture at the centre of Killer by Nature, a brand-new psychological thriller from Audible Originals.

Dr. Diane Buckley, a talented freelance forensic psychologist, is drafted in to examine a grisly murder – a body found in a children’s playground. The murder carries all the hallmarks of one of her most famous incarcerated clients, ‘The Playground Killer’ (aka Alfred Dinklage). In a series of intimate 1:1 sessions, Buckley has to race against time to unpick the facts and delve into Dinklage’s often manipulative, complicated mind to understand his past whilst striving to prevent further murders…as someone out there will stop at nothing to complete Dinklage’s work.

Fully dramatized, with an immersive SFX soundscape, Killer by Nature features an all-star cast, including Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Rob-James Collier (Downton Abbey), Thomas Turgoose (This is England), Angela Griffin (Cutting It) and Will Mellor (No Offence).

Length: 4 hours 31 minutes.

Review –

I didn’t like the SFX sound and felt it really didn’t enhance the experience and  the actors were okay but a lot of times talked over each other which was distracting.

The storyline was good, although, I wish it had stuck to one and not have subplots to muck up things.

My favorite part was the ending because I did not see that coming!

All in all, a short audio mystery is always a good way to kill a few hours.

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she’d been the victim of a pile-on, via Twitter, by fellow porn professionals – punishment for her tweeting something deemed homophobic.

A month later, August’s husband, Kevin, connected with Jon Ronson to tell the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realized was that Ronson would soon hear rumors and secrets hinting at a very different story – something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.

In The Last Days of August, Ronson unravels the never-before-told story of what caused this beloved 23-year-old actress’ untimely death.

Review –

Until Ronson, a Welsh author, starts digging, the popular theory surrounding Ames’ suicide is that she died in response to being dragged on Twitter after making homophobic comments.

Ronson delves into these comments, gradually revealing what was said, who @’d whom, and whether Ames even saw the most vicious tweets before she died. Ames’ widower Kevin Moore has some cockamamie reasoning for why he doesn’t think the tweets were homophobic (they were), but that’s not the real issue in the podcast.

The real issue appears at the first episode’s end, when Ronson drops an interview with Ames’ friend and fellow porn actress Emma Hix. Hix says Moore had asked her to “hold a lot of things in” and not expose Ames’ “dirty little secrets.” And we’re off to the races! Except that Ronson opens the next episode with an attempt to contextualize the blood-chilling audio—deus ex machina-style—from his perspective at the end of the podcast’s investigation phase, 10 months in the future: “This will not turn out to be a murder mystery,” he says. I think that may be a big reason we all like Ronson so much—he’s got one hell of a story to tell us, but he doesn’t want to unfairly smear Moore as a murderer, in case you don’t finish all seven episodes.

The twists and turns of The Last Days of August exhausted me. Ronson runs back and forth between subjects like a reality show producer; Moore won’t let Ames hang out with her friends, Moore says Ames’ friends are pressuring her to do drugs, and so on. It feels like nothing solid ever comes out of the interviews. I can’t promise you’ll finish August feeling like a great veil has been yanked back from what Ames was thinking or what truly happened to her. But August is a fascinating show that manages something truly curious: It presents people from the porn industry quite nakedly, and you never even see them.

At the end of this sad tale nothing has been solved. No one truly knows by August Ames decided to hang herself on a stormy night in December of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above, August Ames with husband, Kevin Moore in 2016.

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

Book Description:

Published: May 19, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

Review –

This is the story of Erin, partly written in first person and told over a dual timeline. Sixteen year old Erin is in love, pregnant and being told what is best for her by adults. They all make sense but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Present day, ten years later, Erin is living in London working at a beauty salon when she receives a blast from the past phone call from her old school friend, Roisin, in Ireland. The call is disturbing and unsettling for Erin and within hours she receives another urgent call from her sister, Fiona, informing her that their father is in intensive care with a serious head injury. From here Erin is forced back to Ireland to be with her family and knows she will also have to face the dreaded Roisin who she knows she will bump into in the small village they live in.

Sue Fortin writes beautifully and competently with unease and tense moments at each chapter ending. Her characters are realistic and visual with enough description to make them authentic without becoming mundane or boring. There is just the right amount of teasing romance to add to the suspense but without distracting from the gripping storyline. The text is rich and written with depth and meaning, and several times I thought I’d guessed what was coming, sometimes I did guess correctly but it didn’t spoil the outcome at all because there was twist and revelation, one on top of another. I found the book totally compelling and couldn’t put it down.

I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes psychological suspense.

My first five-star book of the year!

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

Review

This book will appeal to some, including fans of Lost or Stephen King’s novels, but it’s certainly not for everyone (including me).  It’s  incredibly dark and violent, with graphic scenes involving cannibalism and murder, among other things. Coming in somewhere between a horror story and a supernatural thriller, Afterlife, is a dark, gory, and twisted novel that, while trying to deliver a more profound message, ends up falling short of its goal.

I can not believe the movie rights were snapped up and Ron Howard is involved, BUT I still will not be buying a ticket!

Two stars.

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Review –

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a chilling thriller about what happens to the family of a serial killer and their struggles as the rest of the world continue to judge them as responsible for the killer’s atrocities.

The novel,by Rachel Caine, explores the consequences of the age-old question: how could she not know? Gina Royal is the wife of a serial killer. He killed women in his “workshop,” which was a refinished garage that Gina supposedly never went into. Even though she went to trial and was found not guilty, the jury of the world at large doesn’t believe her. 

Now, after years on the run, Gina—now Gwen—is tired of running. Her kids are tired of running. She hopes that this new house on the shores of Stillhouse Lake will be the perfect new forever home. And all signs point that way: there are police officers nearby, Gwen has learned how to use firearms, and there’s an alarm system and a panic room. It may just be time to settle down. 

Then, they find the woman in the lake. She had  been brutally mutilated and dumped in the lake. The modus operandi is all too familiar to Gwen. Her ex-husband used to do the same thing. Gwen—who has moved from place to place, never letting her children or herself settle into any kind of steady routine—now has to make a choice: run again or stay and hold her ground. 

Every day, Gwen hits the computer and checks the “sicko” boards—people who have followed her husband’s case and her own trial, people who think she is as guilty as he is, people who think she and her children should be punished. 

By the time we, as readers, meet the sickos on the boards, we’ve already spent a lot of time with Gwen and the kids, Lanny and Connor. While the kids are remaining flexible, the strain of constant moves and the inability to put down any roots is showing. There’s trouble at school. There’s trouble at home. The kids are completely caught in the middle of this fiasco—the children could easily be categorized as two more victims of their cruel father. 

But the sicko boards don’t care. Knowing what we know as readers, it’s very hard to read what these strangers want to do to them.  

Despite all its darkness Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake is a great summer read. The central topic is fascinating—haven’t we all wondered about serial killers who were married? Haven’t we all wondered about the spouse, what they knew, and whether they should be considered an additional victim? There’s a hint of romance, of all things. There are definitely scary, tense moments. The author  delves into all this and keeps the pace driving forward, perfect for the beach … maybe a little harrowing for the lake.

Loved this book.

Side Note:

IF the name Rachel Caine sounds familiar, it’s because she is also the author of several young adult books, One series being The Morganville Vampires series and I have read and loved all of those book.

The Morganville Vampires series

  1. Glass Houses (October 2006)
  2. The Dead Girls’ Dance (April 2007)
  3. Midnight Alley (October 2007)
  4. Feast of Fools (June 2008)
  5. Lord of Misrule (January 2009)
  6. Carpe Corpus (June 2009) 
  7. Fade Out (November 2009)
  8. Kiss of Death (April 27, 2010)
  9. Ghost Town (October 26, 2010)
  10. Bite Club (May 3, 2011)
  11. Last Breath (November 1, 2011)
  12. Black Dawn (May 1, 2012)
  13. Bitter Blood (November 6, 2012, Fall of Night (May 7, 2013)
  14. Daylighters (November 5, 2013)