Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Book Description:

Published: March 14, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Review –

Never Let You Go is a book that brings the reader up close and personal to the inner workings of an abusive relationship. I was truly sickened by the ways Andrew manipulates Lindsey. In flashbacks to their relationship, Stevens doesn’t shy away from showing readers the many ways that Andrew threatened Lindsey into submission. The book isn’t too violent – there is a lot of  instances of emotional and verbal abuse depicted also. Sometimes it was difficult to read a few of these scenes, but it also served to make me even more invested in Lindsey’s wellbeing. I wanted her and her daughter to finally be free of Andrew so badly. Of course, Stevens has a number of tricks up her sleeve, and Lindsey and her daughter have a twisty path to travel in pursuit of that freedom. 

This book is structured in three parts: part one gives readers flashbacks on Lindsey and Andrew’s relationship, alternating between different years in their marriage, allowing readers to see the progression of the violence and control that Andrew exercised over Lindsey. Part two brings readers into the present day, as Lindsey and her daughter try to live their lives alongside Andrew’s release from prison. Part three fast-forwards a few months, showing the reader what has become of Lindsey and her daughter. I loved this plot structure—I found that it gave me a 360-degree view of the lasting effects of an abusive relationship, both on its victims and its perpetrators.

I absolutely loved the plot twists that this story does have, but I kept going back and forth on the “who”— I certainly never saw the “why” coming. I was completely shocked when the final ball drops, and readers realize what’s really going on in Lindsey’s life. Even if you do predict all of the big reveal, I don’t believe it would take away from your enjoyment of the book. This book really isn’t about plot twists, it’s an intimate glimpse into the darkest secrets of its characters, and no amount of plot twist-guessing will take that away from the reader.

It’s a chilling read and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Loved it!

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Book Description:

Published: December 31, 2012

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone’s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother’s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted Izzy’s help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades old journal, and a window into her own past.

Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara’s father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care—and Clara is committed to the public asylum.

Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara’s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother’s violent act? Piecing together Clara’s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices—with shocking and unexpected results.

Review –

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This story reminded me of the movie THE SNAKE PIT, based on Mary Jane offers-headphones-jpgmaxheight138maxwidth207Ward’s 1946 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, it tells the story of a woman who finds herself in an insane asylum and cannot remember how she got there.This story was riveting, chilling, and in parts very disturbing. It’s hard to believe that something like this could happen and probably did. Not only was she held against her will, but when her boyfriend found her and tried to rescue her, he was admitted as a crazy person by the administrator, and is later killed. She was pregnant at the time she was first committed and had the baby and it was taken away from her after a few weeks.

Clara, at first was sent to a “nice” home for “nervous invalids” but after the crash of 1929 her father couldn’t afford the payments so she was transferred to a pubic asylum.  The things she suffered there were hard to listen to and brought tears of anger and sadness to my eyes.. Not only was she held against her will, but when her boyfriend found her and tried to rescue her, he was admitted as a crazy person by the administrator, and is later killed. She was pregnant at the time she was first committed and had the baby and it was taken away from her after a few weeks. She was put in at the age of 19 and was imprisoned (because that’s what it was) for 60 years.

Only because of Izzy’s involvement in a museum project did Clara’s fate come to light and an ending that I won’t share here because you need to read this book for yourself. I will tell you that there is a HEA.

Amazing book!!!!!

Five stars *****

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The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Book Description:

Published: February 11, 2014

The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace.

Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

“The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.”

Best-selling author Jennifer McMahon (Promise Not to Tell) opens her new novel, The Winter People, with a sentence that offers a tantalizing glimpse of the horrors to come in this marvelously creepy page-turner.

In The Winter People, the author  gives readers just what they want from a good thriller: can’t-put-it-down, stay-up-until-dawn reading. In addition to being downright creepy, this novel is also a poignant reminder of what grief can drive humans to do. Lock your doors, check under your bed and soak up The Winter People, a legitimately chilling supernatural thriller.

Fantastic book!

Five stars *****

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The Wrong Man by John Katzenbach

Book Description:

Published: September 26,2006

Scott Freeman is a man of reason-a college professor grounded in the rational and practical. But he becomes uneasy after finding an anonymous love letter hidden in his daughter’s room: “No one could ever love you like I do. No one ever will. We will be together forever. One way or another.” But the reality of Ashley’s plight far exceeds Scott’s worst suspicions.
One drink too many had led Ashley, a beautiful, bright art student, into what she thought was just a fling with a blue-collar bad boy. But now, no amount of pleading or reasoning can discourage his phone calls, ardent e-mails, and constant, watchful gaze.
Michael O’Connell is but a malignant shadow of a man. His brash, handsome features conceal a black and empty soul. Control is his religion. Cunning and criminal skill are his stock-in-trade. Rage is his language.
The harder Ashley tries to break free, the deeper Michael burrows into every aspect of her life, so she turns in desperation to her divorced parents and her mother’s new partner-three people still locked in a coldly civilized triangle of resentment. But their fierce devotion to Ashley is the common bond that will draw them together to face down a predator.
For Ashley’s family, it is a test of primal love that will drive them to the extreme edge-and beyond-in a battle of wills that escalates into a life-or-death war to protect their own.

From the bestselling master of suspense, John Katzenbach, The “Wrong Man” is an elegantly crafted and breathtakingly intense read that asks the question, “How far would you go to save the child you love?”

Review:

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

Just how far would you be willing to go to rid your only child of a crazed stalker? That is the question Ashley’s father, mother, her partner, Hope, and her partner’s mother, Katherine, ask themselves after they have tried several other  tactics to get rid of Michael O’Connell. They didn’t get a retraining order because Sally (Ashley’s mother, a lawyer) said it sometimes made things worse.

Ashley and Katherine are given minimal parts to play in the “let’s frame Michael for a crime and have him put in jail  for a very long time” scenario so that they can honestly say they didn’t know anything if the police should come around asking questions. 

Scott, Ashley’s father, Sally and Hope plan a crime of murder but something goes horribly wrong and the consequences are far-reaching. Even though they attain their goal, their lives are never the same.

The story starts out with a woman (we learn her identity near the end of the book) asks a writer if he wants to hear a story and then starts to relate the facts of the case. The the chapters go from current day to the time a few years ago when the “murder” occurred. 

This is a long book, over 450 pages if reading or over  16 hours if listening, but don’t let that deter you-you will be mesmerized by the story, characters and the cruelty of the stalker. It’s a love story about death which is a strange way to put it but it’s true.

Please put this on your “to be read” list. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

Five stars *****

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The Fever by Megan Abbott

Book Description:

Published: June 17, 2014

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation” (Laura Lippman).

Review –

I’m assuming this is a YA book (I need to do more checking) but the language and some discussions between characters seem inappropriate for young teen readers. That being said, I, not a young teen, loved this book and it was the first time I had read or as in this case listened to anything by Megan Abbott.

It looks like the author is a writer of contemporary thrillers but I don’t know if that is how I would classify this book. It’s exciting, puzzling, fast paced and deals with the complicated friendships of adolescent girls.

I couldn’t stop listening once I started and was totally hooked and bought into the premise that a horrific epidemic was causing the girls to fall sick and become debilitated. to find out the true cause you’ll have to read it yourself.

I loved it and will definitely be looking for more of her books.

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The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

Book Description:

Published: September 24, 2015

It has an ocean-front view, a private beach–and a deadly secret that won’t stay buried.

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a gorgeous, multi-million-dollar beachfront estate in the Hamptons, where money and privilege know no bounds. But its beautiful gothic exterior hides a horrific past: it was the scene of a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumored to be cursed, it’s known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.

Detective Jenna Murphy used to consider herself a local, but she hasn’t been back since she was a girl. Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, the former New York City cop hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself, as Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion’s history is much darker than even the town’s most salacious gossips could have imagined. As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth–before the Murder House claims another victim.

Full of the twists and turns that have made James Patterson the world’s #1 bestselling writer, THE MURDER HOUSE is a chilling, page-turning story of murder, money, and revenge.

Review –

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For once, the blurb says it all.

This is a five-star book with a plot line about  a historically evil house and the people affected by it and there is a HUGE twist at the end that you might or might not see coming.  It is chilling, suspenseful, and the kind of story that you can’t stop reading or listening to. Mr. Patterson has done it again, even if he did have a co-author.

I highly recommend it.

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Exit 9 (Project Eden #2) by Brett Battles

Book Description:

Published: December 18, 2011
Before, it was just a test, a little demonstration to see if the virus worked. It did, and so much better than its creators could have ever hoped.

But the testing phase is over. It’s time for Project Eden to take the next step. If its members have their way, humanity is about to get a reboot.

It’s up to Daniel Ash and the others in the outnumbered resistance to keep the Project from severely downsizing mankind. But can their small force succeed in the face of a plan decades in the making?

The human race had better hope so, because if Ash and his friends can’t…

Review –

I read Sick, which is the first in the Project Eden series in 2012 and I loved it so I don’t know why it took me so long to read the follow-up, but with the year drawing to an end I thought this would be  good time to do so.

Exit 9 is a count down clock to the carefully thought out and planned annihilation of 99% of the human population so that the human race can come back as it was meant to be. At least that’s the thought of the directors of the Project Eden group. They plan to release into the air, from established sites all over the world, a bacteria that will cause the Sage Flu and horribly painful deaths will occur in a couple of days. The directors and their family have been vaccinated against it, but I’m wondering if something will happen to mutate the bacteria. I guess I’ll have to read the other books in the series to find out.

There is a lot of cloak and dagger in this story along with human interest so it is a story that everyone can identity with and I highly recommend it.

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Phantoms by Dean Koontz

Book Description

Publication Date: February 5, 2002

CLOSER… They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California.

AND CLOSER… At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

AND CLOSER… But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

Review –

Gruesome,riveting,suspenseful,eerie,terrifying,chilling and horrifying.  Those are just a few of the words that come to mind while I listened to this book.  It was over 14 hours long and  if I hadn’t had to pry myself away to cook and clean I would have listened to it in one sitting. I gave it a 5 star rating on GoodReads and I rarely do that but this one deserved it or higher.  I thought I had read most of the author’s works but this one slipped by until I saw it on sale on Audible and I got it.  So glad I it. If you’re a Dean Koontz fan and haven’t read this one-go buy it right now and do not, I repeat, do not read it in the dark.  *****