Final Scream by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2005

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

It’s the sound every killer waits for . . .

WHEN THERE’S NO ESCAPE FROM A COLD-BLOODED KILLER . . .
As white-hot flames sear the dark night, a killer waits in the trees, watching the mill burn, listening for the screams–the only proof that justice has finally begun for the sins of long-ago.

SCREAM . . . SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN . . .
For journalist Cassidy Buchanan, this inferno is a living nightmare: a reminder of the horrible, mysterious fire that destroyed her wealthy family seventeen years ago–and of Brig McKenzie, the handsome hellraiser accused of setting the blaze. That tragic crime has never been solved, and already the whispers have begun in Prosperity, Oregon: Another fire, more deaths, and one common denominator–Cassidy herself.

OR IT MAY BE THE LAST SOUND YOU EVER MAKE . . .
Cassidy came home to Prosperity to put the past behind her, but it seems the past isn’t finished with Cassidy. Someone doesn’t want her to uncover the chilling truth…someone who has killed before and will kill again…a cold-blooded psychopath who is only waiting to hear her final scream . . .

Review –

This haunting story begins with an inferno that sears the night, snuffing out lives and dreams, and leaves a killer go unpunished for the next seventeen years until they once again feel threatened and slash out at the innocent victims of Prosperity, Oregon.

The tale revolves around journalist, Cassidy Buchanan, who at sixteen suffered the loss of her older half-sister, Angie Buchanan and her unborn child. With no leads as to who was responsible for the arson fire that took her life and that of Jed Baker, the case was closed but now, seventeen years later, the arsonist strikes again injuring both Cassidy’s husband, Chase McKenzie, and a John Doe. With Cassidy being the only link between the original fire and a new one that takes the life of another victim towns folk could have been responsible for the fires or if she had also been an intended victim that had been lucky enough to escape with her life. Meanwhile Cassidy’s teenage crush, Brig McKenzie, who had been a suspect in the arson returns vowing to keep the woman he never stopped loving safe while readers can’t wait to learn if the killer gets his/her wish, to hear Cassidy’s FINAL SCREAM before dying.

The author is a master of suspense and manages to create characters that are both full and rich while fully exploring all the emotions that an extremely dysfunctional family could experience. The only surprise I found was that much of the book spent time exploring past events while covering the current events in much less detail. This was particularly evident in Brig and Cassidy’s relationship since it never focused on an adult love relationship but rather tried to get the reader to assume that their young love was enough to bring the adult one into fruition. Fortunately, the mystery was great and the villain was presented in such a manner that they were neither too obvious nor too obscure making it a quite enjoyable read.

Fantastic read.

The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

Book Description:

Published: February 26, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Beckett,

If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

Ryan

Review –

The Last Letter is the story of Ella MacKenzie and Beckett Gentry and the people they both call family. He is her brother’s best friend and brother in arms. When the war claims Ella’s brother, Ryan, Beckett finds himself doing everything he can to fulfill his best friend’s wishes. Ella needs someone to lean on as she keeps everyone and everything else going full steam ahead, and all Ryan asks is for Beckett to go be a solid force for her to find strength.

There is absolutely zero shortage of feelings associated with this book. I have been through all the stages of grief, along with about 1,000 stages of happiness, and also anticipation and worry and disbelief and pure, pure joy. This is the kind of book you start on a rainy Saturday morning and spend all day cuddled up with. Just make sure you keep a cozy blanket and the tissues handy. Lots and lots of tissues.

Ella is a great heroine. She’s a little stubborn, a lot independent, and a fierce and ferocious mama bear, desperate to keep her little ones safe from anything that could do them harm. That includes any man that shows up with intentions of wooing her. While Beckett’s initial motive is to fulfill Ryan’s last wish, Ella is too much of a force of nature for him to resist her pull. He enters her orbit and is lost to her gravity, even if she pushes him away with equal fervor.

Beckett is kind of the perfect man… with a flaw or two, of course. He is ready to uphold his end of the bargain and be there for Ella and the kids even after things don’t go his way. He betters their lives in infinite ways. I honestly kept reading his chapters and falling more and more in love with him. Ella never stood a chance. Hell, I’m impressed she resisted him for as long as she did.

Besides all of the tears and sadness, there’s so much hope and laughter, and while the sad parts do pack a punch, so does the happiness. I love that no matter what comes their way, neither Beckett nor Ella ever say quit. They both know what it’s like to lose, so their determination is all the more heartening and reassuring.

The only negative thing I’ll say is that the last tragedy could have been left out and the story would have been just as good or maybe better, but the author choose to shock us one more time, and it almost did me in. (more tissues, please)

 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 3 

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

Review –

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides shows you exactly what type of book it’s aiming to be from the very first sentence: “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.” No messing around here.

For people who like their thrillers/mysteries to have twisty plots and straight-forward writing, this recent release is one to look at. Since its February 2019 release, it’s been climbing all over the bestseller charts and is being developed into a movie by heavy-hitters Annapurna and Plan B. 

 

The premise of this book is fantastic. I was engaged right away. The ending is surprising, even if you guess the twist (I didn’t, but some might), and the way the crucial scene of the book plays out is well done. I was skeptical of whether the book would come together, and I pleasantly surprised that it ultimately does.

For most thrillers, I think, the ending is the make-it-or-break it aspect of the story, and this one is pretty solid. Michaelides’s debut novel is an easy, accessible and entertaining read, and it will undoubtedly make for a thrilling movie if and when that is released.

Overall, the story keeps your interest and is well-paced. It reads pretty much the way a thriller should read, with plenty of twists and intriguing bits of information doled out at a steady clip.

I didn’t really see what all the hype was about, because I’ve read better books, even this year. I only gave it three stars because the “ah ha” moment doesn’t come until very late in the story and some of the journal entries are just plain boring and even at times laughable.

 

 

 

 

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

Even the perfect marriage has its dark side… 

Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.

Review – 

On the day after Iris and Will’s seventh wedding anniversary, they’re ready to start trying for a baby. But all is not as it seems.

From the outside, it looks like they have a perfect marriage. Friends and family admire their beautiful home, great jobs, and passionate commitment to each other. All this changes when Will dies on a plane flight he wasn’t supposed to be on.

Scheduled to be en route to Florida to make a presentation at a cybersecurity conference, his name is found on the passenger manifest of a plane bound for Seattle after it crashes in a field. Looking through his files to try to figure out what he was up to, Iris finds a new will and $2.5 million in life insurance policies Will had taken out only months earlier. At a memorial service for the crash victims, she meets Corban, who introduces himself as a friend of Will’s from the gym. According to Corban, Will was on his way to a job interview in Seattle, but the office he was interviewing with has never heard of him. Will doesn’t seem to be hiding a secret lover, but nothing Iris believed about her husband turns out to be true. Iris proves herself a relentless investigator in a case that takes her to Will’s hometown to solve the mystery of whom she married. High school classmates present a very different—and chilling—picture of Will. The suspense builds rapidly from there as Iris pulls back Will’s layers of deception and solves the mystery of what the circumstances of his death meant for their marriage.

Another  compelling adventure from Kimberly Belle!

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

One woman will stop at nothing to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Chasing disasters around the globe keeps humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews away from her own ground zero. Now, after sixteen years in jail for the murder of her stepmother in small-town Tennessee, Gia’s father has come home to die of cancer. And she’s responsible for his care.

Resuming the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer means confronting the past she’s spent over a decade avoiding. But in the end, the truth about what really happened may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

Review –

Have you ever thought that you would give anything to know the truth about a situation and then when you do find that truth, wish you hadn’t? That, for me sums up this debut novel by Kimberly Belle.

This book is a thought provoking dramatic undertaking that takes a decade old crime and uses it to dissect and examine the characters who all were affected by it.  While the mystery is a strong base the story is built on, I found the character dynamics far more prevalent. A trio of siblings, torn apart by their stepmother’s death and father’s conviction of the crime must come together and finally deal with the past and their own feelings towards their father and each other. The author combines a blend of humor,  sorrow, and compassion as she tells us a story of love, loss, jealousy, guilt, and forgiveness. Using the past and the present, Belle guides us down a long twisting road, letting us form our own opinions about what happened as we listen to the victims recollections of what happened and the accounts of all those left behind to question and wonder.

Fantastic read!

 

 

The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

Book Description:

Published: August 6, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The perfect life. The perfect love.

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

Review –

“The Perfect Wife follows Abbie, who as the story opens, wakes up not knowing who she is or where she is.  Tim, the man who is with her when she wakes up, says that he is her husband and begins to fill in some of the gaps in her memory, telling her that she is an artist and a mother.  What he tells her next is rather unsettling.  Tim, a giant in the Silicon Valley tech industry, informs Abbie that she was in a horrific accident five years ago that took her from him. Through the magic of a technological breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence, he has managed to bring her back from the dead.  The Abbie we are following in the story is actually an AI robot that is basically a clone of Tim’s real wife.

The technology is such that even many of Abbie’s memories were able to be uploaded into the AI unit. What starts to happen, however, is that the more AI Abbie pieces together about the real life relationship between her alter ego and Tim, the more she questions what Tim’s motives really are and his version of the accident that took Abbie from him.  Is he really just a sad guy who misses his wife and wants to preserve her memory (in a slightly creepy way) or is there more to it?

I really enjoyed the many twists and turns of the story as AI Abbie gets closer and closer to unraveling the mystery of what happened to the real Abbie and what Tim’s role in it was.  There’s plenty of suspense and I just loved the sci fi twist, especially having the story told from the perspective of the AI so that we can see her piecing together all of the key details needed to solve the mystery.  The AI tech speak was interesting too, even if I didn’t necessarily understand all of it or wholly buy into the idea of being able to upload memories into an AI unit. It was still fascinating to even consider the possibility.  I also liked the exploration of the moral implications – would such a thing even be considered ethical since you’re basically artificially cloning a person without his or her consent?

I also liked that in addition to the science fiction angle and the mystery/psychological thriller angle, the story has even more layers that deal with marriage and family.  The author does an especially nice job of realistically depicting all of the challenges that come with raising a child who is on the autism spectrum.

If a psychological thriller with a sci fi twist and a wholly original plot sounds like something you would enjoy, J. P. Delaney’s The Perfect Wife should be on your must-read list.” thebookishlibra

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

Review –

“A disgraced British actress named Claire Wright comes to the United States, sans green card, looking for work. Her agent gives her the bad news. “The days we took the huddled masses yearning to be free are long over.” She ends up working for a divorce lawyer, setting up stings to entrap unfaithful husbands by pretending to be a high-priced hooker. Then one of her prospective clients is found dead beneath a bloody sheet in a hotel room. Primary suspect: the woman’s husband, a Columbia University professor and the translator of Baudelaire’s book of S&M poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal. The police suspect he’s a serial killer, with previous Baudelaire-inspired murders under his belt, ha ha. They have Claire go undercover to lure this guy into a confession. It’s the role of her career, one she throws herself into so wholeheartedly she loses track of what is real and what is masquerade, ending up madly in love with her target. After many twists and pseudo-reveals, she ends up first in a mental institution and then with a starring role in My Heart Laid Bare, the suspected killer’s off-Broadway show based on a nasty incident in the life of Baudelaire. “Who is the real Claire Wright? The one sitting here with her precious green card and permit in front of her, exchanging pleasantries with the man who provided it? Or the one who fell for the darkness she sensed deep inside the only man she couldn’t seduce?” An unreliable-narrator setup works best when the character believes her own story or is lying intentionally to other characters in the book. When it mostly means that the narrator deliberately conceals key facts from the reader for no purpose other than to create confusion and suspense, it feels a little cheesy. The author confesses in an afterword that she wrote and published this book decades prior to last year’s bestseller, The Girl Before, but it didn’t do very well, so she’s trying again with a rewrite.

The best parts of this book were written in the middle of the 19th century by Charles Baudelaire.” Kirkus Review

Didn’t care for this book at all. It was too convoluted and I gave it three stars.

Those People by Louise Candlish

Book Description:

Published: June 11,2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the author of the international bestseller Our House, a new novel of twisty domestic suspense asks, “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him?”

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying–and everyone has something to hide.

Review –

One downside of home ownership is the sadness of watching a beloved neighbor pack up and move on. Another is the accompanying anxiety of who will be moving in, just mere yards from you. (Cross your fingers!)
As I’m writing this I’m watching a for sale sign going up across the street and cringing!

The residents of Lowland Way neighborhood are in for a big shock when the epitome of all bad neighbors moves in at the end of the block. Doing all the standard bad neighbor things. Loud music at all hours, questionable home renovations and full-blown general nastiness!

When there’s a death at this new neighbor’s home it soon becomes an all-out whodunit! With every neighbor having their own questionable behavior.

This was an interesting, fun premise. I always love reading about these “neighborhood” books! They play on my own fears of what goes on down the street from me.

The mystery unfolds slowly from alternating perspectives as we meet the neighbors. There is quite a huge cast of characters to keep track of which I did find a little bit confusing in keeping them all straight and who belonged to whom.

I didn’t really think there were any real surprises here but I did really enjoy the way this story was formatted. Which definitely set a menacing and sinister tone here for a fun and entertaining read.

Great read.

 

Starter House by Sonja Condit

Book Description:

Published: december 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home — a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there’s a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won’t leave Lacey alone, and soon she’s forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She’s going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.

Review –

In Condit’s creepy debut, a young couple’s dream home turns out to be haunted.

The cottage at 571 Forrester Lane in the Southern town of Greeneburg is perfect for Lacey and Eric Miszlak. She’s pregnant and wants to be near the best schools; he wants a 20-minute commute to his uncle’s law firm. Lacey brushes aside the spooked reaction of their broker (who knows more than she’s telling) but discovers after they move in that the house harbors a ghost: Drew, a needy little boy who asks her to be his mother. Lacey, a former elementary school teacher, prides herself on being good with difficult children, but she quickly learns to fear Drew’s rages and his hostility toward her unborn child. “The thing in the house. It eats babies,” blurts out the broker’s daughter. The trouble started in 1972, when Andrew Halliday killed his wife, three of his four children and himself. Only Andrew Junior survived the massacre; he’s changed his name to Lex Hall and has retained Eric in a custody battle over his young daughter. Yes, it’s a lot of coincidences to swallow, and Drew’s ability to travel as far afield as Australia seems more convenient than likely even within the parameters of a ghost story, but Condit paints such a convincing portrait of the Miszlaks’ tension-riddled marriage and does such a good job of escalating the menace in Lacey’s encounters with Drew that readers won’t care much about probability. The novel has unusually strong characterizations as well, in particular the depiction of Lacey’s New Age–y mother, Ella, who proves to be stronger and more protective than her daughter could understand in childhood. Eric too, controlling and overcautious though he is, comes through with flying colors in the violent denouement at the top of the stairs that have seen so many previous deaths.

Good, scary fun, packed with emotional nuance.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read!

 

 

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Review –

“An angry ex-wife is stalking a young, innocent fiancee who is a carbon copy of her former self…or so it seems.

The use of a multiviewpoint, chronologically complex narrative to create suspense by purposely misleading the reader is a really, really popular device. Two words: Gone Girl. While we are not the fools we once were and now assume immediately that we are being played, the question is whether we still take pleasure in the twists and revelations that follow. Pekkanen (The Perfect Neighbors, 2016, etc.) and Hendricks’ debut collaboration falls into the first wife/second wife subgenre of this type of story (e.g., The Girl Before, The Last Mrs. Parrish). In all of these, an unbelievably handsome, wildly successful, secretive, rigid, orderly, and controlling husband—here it’s Richard, a 36-year-old hedge fund manager with “a runner’s wiry build and an easy smile that belied his intense navy-blue eyes”—marries the same type of woman more than once, sometimes more than twice. Of course, he’s not who he seems. Perhaps the female characters are not, either. Here, we meet Nellie, an adorable New York preschool teacher who is not quite sure she wants to give up the fun, shoestring, highly social lifestyle she shares with her roomie to move to a sterile suburb with Richard. But the wedding date—of course he hasn’t even told her the location, just “buy a new bikini”—draws ever closer. Something bad happened to Nellie in Florida a long time ago that has made her anxious and hypervigilant. Meanwhile, Vanessa, the spurned wife, lives with her artist Aunt Charlotte (a great character), is boozing heavily, and is about to lose her job at Saks. She’s stalking Nellie, determined to prevent the marriage at all costs. Since you know there’s got to be more to it than this, the fun is in trying to figure it out before they tell you. We didn’t! One of the subplots, the one about the bad thing in Florida, was as good or better than the main plot.” Kirkus Reviews

Excellent read!   4 1/2 stars