Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Book Description:

Published: January 23, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review –

This book is told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the freshness that  new friend,Kat, brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, but she begins to realize that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems.

It is very interesting as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, and  all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and the action builds to a huge reveal that leaves the reader wondering which of the two women is more twisted. Fans of psychological thrillers will be very well satisfied.

Fantastic read! Five stars!

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You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam, and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores the domestic life: baking, gardening, caring for her infant son. Sam, formerly an academic, is pursuing a new career as a filmmaker. Sometimes they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frank visits their Swedish paradise, she immediately becomes part of the family. She bonds with Conor. And with Sam. She befriends the neighbors, and even finds herself embracing the domesticity she’s always seemed to scorn.

All their lives, Frank and Merry have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank soon sees the things others might miss. Treacherous things, which are almost impossible to believe when looking at this perfect family. But Frank, of all people, knows that the truth is rarely what you want the world to see.

Review –

From what I understand, readers either hate this book or love it because of the subject matter, but when I read some of the reviews it only made me want to read it more to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Yes, the subject matter is disturbing and the storyline is shocking but I must say, I have read other books that were just as subject sensitive but didn’t get all the love/hate reaction. I think, because one of the characters was a helpless infant is one of the reasons some people steer clear of this book and that’s okay. For me, I don’t let taboo or sensitive suspects deter me from reading a book. Unless the book may have triggers for you – step outside your comfort zone and read something daring.

I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Kept by James Scott

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.

In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.

A scorching portrait of a merciless world — of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence — The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.

Review –

I don’t know where to start with this one except to say that is the MOST DEPRESSING book I have ever read or listened to (I listened – which made it worse because the narrator made the characters come alive).

Elspeth is a midwife and stays away from home for months at a time and is returning to her homestead, which is a six-hour walk from the nearest town. Once there she finds her husband and four children all dead from gun shots. She is accidentally shot with a rifle by her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who survived the massacre by hiding and being quiet.

Caleb does the best he can to doctor her wounds but she almost dies. When she is able to stand it he tells her of the three mens with red scarves around their necks who did the killings. She says they must go and hunt them down and kill them. 

Thus starts the saga.

Once arriving in the town they suspect the murders reside Elspeth dresses like a man and gets a job hauling ice and Caleb, who quickly tires of staying all day cooped up in a hotel room, gets a job as a janitor at the brothel.

The things these two endure is amazing and when facts come out about Caleb’s “brothers and sisters” he is not really shocked because by that time he had a suspicion.

Do they find the killers? You’ll have to read the book, but let me warn you it is depressing, especially the ending.

After listening to this, I had to find a “fluff” piece to read/listen because my mind was not ready for another serious tome.

 

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review –

Detention takes a dark turn when the student behind Bayview High’s infamous app About That dies from a peanut allergy—and every witness has a different reason for wanting him gone.

Although the author’s debut novel initially feels like a rehashing of The Breakfast Club, with five teens from very different social circles brought together through detention, there is no bonding through library dance parties or atypical lipstick application. Instead, Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy witness Simon collapse and ultimately die after taking a sip of water. When police discover the drink was laced with peanut oil—and that Simon was going to reveal life-ruining secrets about all four students on his gossip app the next day—they go from unfortunate witnesses to top murder suspects. With each teen (“brain,” “criminal,” “jock,” and “princess,” respectively; “walking teen-movie stereotypes,” as Simon says) narrating alternating chapters, the novel offers insights into common adolescent struggles—from the pressure to succeed to an alcoholic, out-of-work father—as well as an unlikely romance and opportunities for self-reflection as the investigation escalates.

Although the language and plot sometimes border on cliché, this fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic the  John Hughes  film, will leave readers racing to the finish as they try to unravel the mystery on their own.

The ending is surprising and makes for a very good “who-dun-it” read.

 

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

Review –

Most of the reviews that I read prior to listening to this book said NOT to read the reviews because there is a GIANT surprise twist in the story so I’m telling you the same thing: DO NOT READ THE REVIEWS!

Sal and Charlie have known each other since college and married quickly after meeting without Sal really getting to know Charlie. Even before the marriage there were signs of a controlling, short-tempered personality, but Sal choose to dismiss it.

After the marriage, Sal was cut off from friends and family and the verbal abuse became physical. Suffice it to say that the longer they are together the worse it gets. Even after the birth of their daughter, Maggie, it continues to worsen.

Finally, Sal can’t take it any longer and decides to leave, confiding in the neighbor, but Charlie finds out and there is a knife involved and this is when I will stop because the TWIST happens.

I must confess, I DID NOT see this particular twist coming and I’m glad because it made the SURPRISE even bigger.

I loved this book and applaud the author, Lisa Hall, on tackling the subject of domestic violence so well.

I highly recommend it!!!!!!  4.5 stars

 

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Book Description:

Published: August 4, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child’s mother, it is wrong…

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother’s belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew – dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Yan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later…

Review –

Roberta treasures books so much that she pines away in her beloved job at Old and New Bookshop, watching Philip, her boss and the man she can’t yet admit to herself that she loves, take the beautiful Jenna as his lover. But secrets begin to spill out of the books—secrets that will change her understanding of the past and hopes for the future.

One fateful day, Roberta’s father, John, brings in an old suitcase labeled “Mrs. D. Sinclair,” filled with her grandmother Dorothea Pietrykowski’s old books. Between the pages, Roberta discovers a letter dated Feb. 8, 1941, signed by her grandfather Yan Pietrykowski, warning Dorothea that what she is about to do will dishonor her, imperil her very soul, and wrong some unnamed mother and child. If only Roberta could ask her grandmother or her father about the letter, but at 109, Dorothea has entered hospice care, and John’s health is failing, as well.

Meanwhile, Jenna confesses to a bewildered Roberta that she’s pregnant with a child fathered by her ex-boyfriend and not her current boyfriend, Philip, the owner of the bookstore.

The authors’ debut novel nimbly weaves together Roberta’s and Dorothea’s stories—the reader almost expects to pull a shadowy missive from its spine. Roberta’s life is a mess; she stifles her feelings for Philip, twisting her desires into a sad affair with a married man. But Dorothea’s story is the stuff of films: disowned, disappointed in marriage, crushed by multiple miscarriages—Dorothea rises above it all to manage her own farmhouse, to take into her home two young women, part of the Women’s Land Army, and to find new love with Yan, the dashing Polish Squadron Leader.

I felt so sorry for Yan, because even though he broke Dorothy’s heart saying that he couldn’t offer marriage to her if she was going through with her plan with he baby (you’ll have to read the book so find out which baby) but later, after the war, has a change of heart and tries to find her, but doesn’t succeed. We never find out what happens to him.

A breathtaking, beautifully crafted tale of loves that survive secrets.

Fantastic read!

 

Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

Book Description:

Published: January 26, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student and daughter of a powerful attorney, was brutally murdered there. Now the town is reeling with grief, and the police are baffled.

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the efforts to keep it quiet, hint at something far more sinister than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life and her secrets the more convinced she becomes that walking in Becca’s footsteps could lead her out of her own dark past.

Review –

Becca Eckersley’s brutal rape and murder brings journalist Kelsey Castle to Summit Lake. Recovering from her own trauma,(attempted rape and beating while jogging)Kelsey’s boss believes this story is the best way for her to come to grips with her past. She gets full cooperation from the police commander, which is more than she expects. But he’s been one-oped by the State Police and helps her behind the scenes. A young staff doctor provides surprising autopsy information and eventually a partner in finding out the real facts of the case. Flashbacks to Becca’s college life shed some light on what might have happened in the present and inside sources provide even more shocking information regarding Becca. A missing journal may hold the key, but  Kelsey gets roadblocks thrown her way that threaten her ability to discover the truth. But she persists and doesn’t know that retracing the steps of a dead girl with ultimately resolve her own demons and help her come into a new life.

This is a fast-paced page turner and it has teasing plot twists. The authored a fantastic job of giving just the right amount of information at just the right time. It’s refreshing to find a book that has such a well-developed plot and excellent writing to back it up.

Loved it, however I would have liked to seen a relationship develop between Kelsey and the young doctor.

Five stars!

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: February 11,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Review –

In two words, this book was SUPER CREEPY!!!!

Jack has a horribly violent past and he lives to satisfy his predilection , which is to psychologically terrorize and break women and sometimes physically hurt them.

Grace is mature beyond her years and the sole guardian of the sister, Millie, who has Down’s Syndrome. They meet Jack in the park and he ingratiates himself into their lives. To Grace he is the perfect man and she agrees to marry him. Millie is to be her bridesmaid, but on the way to wedding site Jack pushes Millie down a flight of stairs, unbeknownst to Grace. The wedding proceeds and they fly to Thailand for the honeymoon. Jack hasn’t been very sexually attentive in their relationship but Grace has chalked this up to his busy lawyer status . Jack has NEVER lost a case, the irony being that he defends battered women.

Jack disappears on their wedding night and when he does reappear he explains to Grace exactly what her life will be like. She will have no phone, no passport, no money and she will do as he says or else Millie will suffer. He locks her out on the terrace for hours at a time while he goes off and feeds her only when he feels like it.

Arriving at their new home Grace sees that it is everything they had discussed prior to the wedding but try to escape and each time a privilege is taken away until finally she is kept in black pajamas  in a small plain room with bars on the one small window. She can have no books or newspapers, no television, no writing implements , nothing to offer distraction and stimulation. 

When Millie turns eighteen the plan is for her to come live with them so Grace has to get free before that happens.

THAT is all I’m going to tell you, except to say that this book is told from Grace’s POV in Past and Present modes.

Does she get free from the clutches of her crazy, murderous psycho of a husband?  You will have to read or listen to this book for yourself. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and flipping pages or listening from beginning to end inn one sitting. (I almost did.)

Fantastic debut novel. Can’t wait to see what this author brings us next.

Five stars *****

 

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

Book Description:

Published: December 1, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…

Review –

Author Gilly Macmillan alternates between two narrators in her mesmerizing debut novel: Rachel Finch, a grieving mother whose eight-year-old son, Ben, disappears from the Leigh Woods in Bristol, England  10 months after her husband left her for another woman; and Detective Inspector  James “Jim” Clemo, who tirelessly searches to find Ben.

Rachel can’t forgive herself for letting her son run ahead of her in the forest, and Jim blames himself for not solving the case sooner. In the aftermath of the investigation, Rachel learns disturbing things about her past and comes to the painful conclusion that she can trust only a few people in her life. Meanwhile, Jim suffers from severe depression that leads to acute insomnia and panic attacks, causing his department to mandate counseling sessions. The suspense intensifies as suspects are ruled out, and the media relentlessly pursue Rachel for negligent supervision of her son. 

Excellent book that will keep you guessing to the end.

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Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Book Description:

Published: May 12, 2015

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Review –

Like everyone else, I believed that blurb that this book was for those of us that loved GONE GIRL, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think it was just a gimmick to get people to read it.

I hated the character of Tiffany/Ani from the very beginning and I never changed my mind about her. I felt sorry for her for what happened when she was fourteen (both events) but she wanted to be part of the in-crowd and it did not turn out well.

As an adult she was still trying to achieve “in crowd” status by having the right fiancée, the right engagement ring, the right color and style of hair and the perfect body.  I didn’t like her fiancée either-he was tow faced. He would act one way around her and when he was alone talk trash about her to his friends.

I DID like the ending because I think Dean finally will get what’s coming to him.

It was a good read, but not at all what I had expected.

 

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