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.

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Beartown ( Bjornstad #1) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Review –

This novel concerns a Swedish youth league hockey team and its  place in a declining town. “Hockey is just a silly little game,” he writes. “We burn and bleed and cry, fully aware that the most the sport can give us, in the very best scenario, is incomprehensibly meager and worthless: just a few isolated moments of transcendence. …But what the hell else is life made of?”

Beartown quickly turns dark as the author exposes the one-track hearts and minds of some of Beartown’s residents. The isolated community in the novel is in Sweden, but “Beartown” is a universal story of homophobia, sexism and politics that could take place anywhere.

“Small towns need a head start if they’re going to have any chance in the world,” Backman writes, and, as readers soon learn, covering up a heinous crime is not up for debate if the town is going to make economic and social advances. It’s why Backman’s descriptions of screeching hockey parents who yell at coaches and other parents during games — we’ve all seen them — seem almost comical set against the ugly group mentality that takes over after a teen is raped and the Beartown Ice Hockey Club’s star player is accused of the crime.

Current fiction may have no more courageous young female character than Maya, who faces hate and threats after she comes forward about the rape. Backman writes a gritty, heart-stopping account of the sexual assault after which the novel then pivots into even more ominous territory as the town turns on her and her family.

Beartown is not just about a sexual assault; it’s also about Beartown families closing ranks and perpetuating falsehoods to protect themselves and the hockey team. It’s also about the all-encompassing culture of youth sports — the physical, mental and emotional commitment demanded of the players (not necessarily a bad thing) and the way that team sponsors, coaches and fans treat players like products rather than human beings.

So, although the book initially seems to be about the sport of hockey in a very small Swedish town, it is about sooo much more than that.

Five stars and I highly recommend it.

 

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book Description:

Published: March 7, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review –

This book is very on point for today’s society because do we even think about a person’s whereabouts before texting? I usually don’t and I bet I’m not the only one. 

Carver (nicknamed Blade by the Sauce Crew, his three best friends) KNEW where Mars was when he sent a text. Mars was driving with his two best friends in the car and tried to answer the text only to crash into a parked semi instead.

This book is all about the repercussions of his act but also about sharing a Goodbye Day with the relatives of his deceased best friends. A Goodbye Day is spent doing things the deceased would have done and sharing memories of them with family members. I love the idea and think it should become a real thing.

It’s a very moving book that will make you think long after the book is closed for the last time. This is the second book I’ve read by author, Jeff Zentner and all I can say is that he really knows how to write about feelings.

I highly recommend it!

 

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!

 

 

Fatal by John Lescroart

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kate loves her life. At forty-four, she’s happily married to her kind husband, Ron, blessed with two wonderful children, and has a beautiful home in San Francisco. Everything changes, however, when she and Ron attend a dinner party and meet another couple, Peter and Jill. Kate and Peter only exchange a few pleasant words but that night, in bed with her husband, Kate is suddenly overcome with a burning desire for Peter.

What begins as an innocent crush soon develops into a dangerous obsession and Kate’s fixation on Peter results in one intense, passionate encounter between the two. Confident that her life can now go back to normal, Kate never considers that Peter may not be so willing to move on.

Not long after their affair, a masked man barges into the café Kate is sitting in with her best friend, firing an assault weapon indiscriminately into the crowd. This tragedy is the first in a series of horrifying events that will show Kate just how grave the consequences of one mistake can be.

 

Review-

“Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive”  Sir Walter Scott

This simple statement perfectly sums up the moral of this story, and what a story it is!

This was  my first reading of a John Lescroart book and I loved it.  I found the storyline to be very on point and the characters very credible. 

In today’s society of “instant gratification” the consequences of actions are rarely considered and that was the problem with Kate having a “one night stand” with Peter.

Along with her infidelity, there is a domestic terror attack, a murder and multiple suspects, and a friend who doesn’t know her best friend as well as she thought she did.

The author  serves up a brilliant whodunit mystery that had me holding my breath until the very end, which is perfect, by the way, if not a little frustrating.

Fantastic standalone read.

Five stars!!!!!

 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: July 25, 2017   

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review –

This is a book that will keep you guessing at every chapter.  You think you know what’s going on and in the next sentence you discover you were totally wrong.  I LOVE books this this because you never get bored and it “strains the brain” to figure out what comes next.

I have now read all three books by this author and she out does herself with every one.  Were Alfred Hitchcock still around, he surely would have snapped up the rights because it would be right up his alley. Hitch would have more of a challenge, though, making “The Lying Game” into something memorable. This story stays scrupulously within the lines: to the degree it satisfies, it does so because — like a Lifetime movie — its premise, setting and characters are so comfortably broken-in. There’s even a haunted house, a dark and stormy night, a baby in danger and climactic trials by flood and fire. But even if the story hints at being a cliché, you can’t help but be drawn in.

The plot ambles back and forth between the women’s youth and their anxious present, they are four old school friends bound together by a terrible secret. Fifteen years ago, Isa Wilde arrived at Salten House, a boarding school on the south coast. She and three other girls, Fatima, Kate and Thea, form an inseparable clique impervious to the world around them. They spend their weekends at Kate’s home, the Old Mill, a ramshackle building overlooking the nearby estuary, under the watchful eye of her father Ambrose (the school’s art teacher), and in the company of Kate’s sort-of half-brother Luc.

Most of the girls’ time, however, is spent playing the Lying Game, competing with each other to get away with increasingly outrageous untruths: to “outwit everyone else – ‘us’ against ‘them’”. Then one day something terrible happens, and henceforth they’re “lying not for fun, but to survive”.

What is the secret they are hiding, who else knows about it, who is blackmailing Kate, who killed the sheep and is the note Ambrose wrote really a suicide note? These are just a few of the questions in this fantastic read.

  Five stars!!!!

 

 

Her Last Breath (Kate Burkholder #5) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere.

What at first seems like a tragic, but routine car accident suddenly takes on a more sinister cast as evidence emerges that nothing about the crash is accidental. But who would want to kill an Amish deacon and two of his children? He leaves behind a grieving widow and a young boy who clings to life in the intensive care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate. He may be the only one who knows what happened that night. Desperate to find out who killed her best friend’s husband and why, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk, but instead is on the trail of a cold blooded killer amid the residents of Painter’s Mill. It is a search that takes her on a chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born.

Review –

The story opens with a horrible accident. An Amish father and his children, returning home in their horse-drawn buggy, are demolished by a speeding car that flees into the night. A scene that is so harrowingly rendered it’s as if the reader is an eyewitness.

But was it an accident? Or was it a murder of horrific proportions? If so, why? What’s the payoff for killing off a father and his children?  Nothing is apparent and as Kate digs deeper into the family and the community, a community that still resents her departure from the fold, she uncovers dark deeds and motives that defy understanding. She was best friends, as children, with the wife of the murdered family, but did she really know her at all?

Kate’s continuing and growing relationship with FBI agent John Tomasetti only complicates her life (John has bought a farmhouse about 20 minutes from Painter’s Mill and has asked Kate to move in with him) and skews her choices. Choices that could end her career. John’s too.

Excellent story.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2011

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Review –

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This is a fantastic read/listen ( I had the audio version ) and although it is slow and repetitive in places it grabs your heart-strings and doesn’t let go.

It’s a book to be equally enjoyed by young adults as well as their parents because the issues are presented from both perspectives. The main characters are twins, Mia and Zack  and Jude, their adept but hovering mother and Lexi, a lonely teen living with her aunt.

Mothers will  relate to her parenting skills and worrying. Young adults and teens will relate to the push and pull of finding independence from one’s parents and the necessity of being accepted by peers. It’s layered with issues on family dynamics, teenage angst and romance, first loves, sibling rivalry, friendship, forgiveness, grief and motherhood making it an excellent read.

I felt so sorry for Lexi who just can’t catch a break and so angry at Zack for putting Lexi in a position that  endangered all three of them and ended Mia’s life.

The ending is a bit too much HALLMARK, but I’m glad everything worked out for everyone.

All in all a great book.

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Book Description:

Published: August 11, 2015

I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.
I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.
The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.

What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

Review –

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While I LOVED the book, I have read reviews that said that the going back and forth in time between the two points of view distracted many readers. For me this was not a problem because I listened to the audio version and going back to 1995 when Tessie is  sixteen and seeing different doctors to help her cope with the trauma that she went through and then to the present as Tessa trying to help free the man serving time on death row and it flowed very smoothly.

It’s a creepy psychological thriller and will keep you hanging on to every word. There are a couple of surprise twists that you don’t see coming and that makes it even better.

Five stars *****

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A Mess of Reason by A. Wilding Wells

Book Description:

Published:  February 2016

“Scout Steele is the country music star People magazine just voted “sexiest bachelor”. More than that, he’s my best friend forever, my bff. OK, not quite my lingo – I’m almost thirty. We’ve shared everything, and then some. Even crossed the line a few times, but not too far. Well, mostly…. He’ll go to the end of the world to make me happy; he knows me inside and out. Except, that is, my most intimate and darkest defect; this he must never know. It would ruin us, and ‘us’ is the only thing that matters. So I’m marrying someone who doesn’t care about the truth or, frankly, even me.”

“She’s twisted and sexy as all get out. Brilliant and beautiful, Tess Harlow is my best friend and my forbidden fruit – the woman I’ve always known and loved the best but can never have. Between my tours (and sexy groupies) and her man-juggling, we’ve never found “our time”. I love her to pieces but she’s about to marry the bane of my existence, rocker Creed Luce. He’s a walking cliché and he treats my Tess like hell – why she stays with him I still haven’t figured out. I am always there for her…but not this time. Tess deserves better, way better, my better. The door is half-open and I have my ways. Her best friend is about to become her best lover.”

Review –

So, this book has a common story line-best friends, who have known each other for ages but want more from each other but won’t act on it. Also the girl, Tess, is engaged to a real jerk.

Tess also has a secret that no one knows about, but it’s not as bad as the build up leads you to believe, so when Scout finds out, it’s like no big deal.

The only reason they finally did act on their attraction to one other is that her fiancée had se with another woman. Who knows what would have happened if Tess actually went through with the wedding. Scout should have acted long before e did.

To me, the story didn’t flow and it felt like there were holes in it; like Tess’s accident, hospital stay and recovery. It was just glossed over, yet Tess contends it’s a secret as big as the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Overall, it’s not an award winner but it was a pleasant read and I LOVE the cover.

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