Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: June 9, 2020

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review –

Charlotte, the narrator of this well-paced novel set in Lake Crosby, N.C., from author, Kimberly Belle, was raised in poverty, but she has achieved her dream of a better life by marrying Paul Keller, the richest man in the Appalachian tourist town of Lake Crosby, N.C., despite the local gossip that Paul drowned his first wife four years earlier.

Then one day she’s disturbed to spot a nervous-looking Paul talking to a strange woman. The next day, Charlotte finds the woman’s body floating under their lakefront dock, just like Paul’s first wife. When shown the body, Paul tells the police he’s never seen the woman. He later takes off without telling anyone where he’s going. Frightened and confused, Charlotte turns to Paul’s two best friends for support, one the town crazy, the other the police chief’s son, both with dark secrets of their own. Belle weaves an intricate web of connections among the characters as the action moves toward the surprising ending. 

This story had intrigue and mystery from the start. I loved the instant suspense of the gossip-inducing relationship and then the first crime right off the top. While Charlotte’s character is not universally loved in their small town, I happened to like her. She handled herself very well with all the drama and her character was one that was inspiring on how she tried to be loyal to those around her and strong willed to get through everything.

While I did guess the killer about two thirds through the listen, how it all played out was very exciting and shocking with each turn. The author sure knows how to write a story that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved the main characters. I loved the little side characters who helped fill the gaps in this story and shape it into its most interesting parts.

If you love a good mystery, this is it. Thrills, suspense, mystery… Stranger in the Lake has it all.

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Review –

Touching tale of girl with OCD finding love through poetry.

Everyone has something they want to hide, even from their closest friends, and I empathized with her desire to keep her secret from her glittery, popular clique. She also just wants to feel “normal,” something that I think everyone  struggles with in high school. 

I loved her new-found friends in Poet’s Corner. Every one was so unique and yet they all shared these secret poetry sessions that made them into a family. Poet’s Corner is an escape, but it’s also where you find your true self, and I wish we had had something similar in my school. Hell, even now I would want to join a secret poetry club!

I think it’s so important that stories like Sam’s are given a bigger place in mainstream media. Every Last Word is a story about living with a mental illness. Sam has a therapist, she takes medication, and her parents are trained on how to handle situations when Sam feels overwhelmed or out of control. She has a set treatment plan that works (and that she and her therapist worked on together and continue to develop as Sam grows), and a therapist who is portrayed in a positive light and I think that all of that is so important. Sam struggles throughout the book with the idea of “normal.” She wants to feel that way and doesn’t see herself as such. But by the end, she realizes that there are all kinds of “normal.”

The most unique aspect of Every Last Word is how Stone weaves poetry into the storyline. The poetry opens the windows to the characters’ hearts and gives a depth to characters that you just can’t get with simple characterization. I felt every emotion with this book!

There is a pivotal point in the book (no spoilers) that changes the trajectory of Sam’s life. It gave me goose bumps and I cried ugly tears.

Though this is a young adult book, I highly recommend it to everyone!

 

 

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Book Description:

Published: October 16, 2018

Format: Audio/Audiobook Sync

Stars: 5

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number—and private photos—with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally there’s Jenna, a good girl turned rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice. All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip and will have readers tearing through the pages to reach the final reveal.

Review –

Sexting, lies, and consequences.

Jenna, Drew, and Mouse(Matthew) are thrown together for their senior law final project. Instead of being the easy “A”  Drew expected, the class ignites controversy about dangerous social media issues. Jenna hasn’t spoken to her ex-boyfriend Troy since the day he publicly tweeted topless pictures of her. She has since cut her hair short, dyed it jet black, cut up her girly wardrobe and set his truck on fire, exchanging ballet shoes for a court-mandated anger management class. Drew is an unapologetic player on and off the basketball court but finds himself drawn to Jenna’s newfound strength. Uber-intelligent Mouse is bound for MIT and painfully in love with Jenna. He stands to lose everything if anyone finds out that the basketball team hired him to build a database to house photos of naked girls. What all three students have in common are grievances against their law teacher, Mrs. Bailey. When shocking photos of Mrs. Bailey are posted on the internet, the threesome begin to suspect each other while confronting their own moral transgressions. The author creates realistic, multidimensional characters while exploring the legal and ethical ramifications of privacy as it plays out in a hormonally charged high school environment. Drew and Jenna are white, and Mouse and Troy are black.

I thought I knew where this book was going and BOOM, a twist I didn’t see coming. Fantastic and well deserved ending.

A provocative story about the consequences of poor decisions in our digital world.

I highly recommend it to all young adults who have ever thought about posting something they shouldn’t on social media!

 

 

Look for Me(Det. D.D. Warren #9) by Lisa Gardner

BookDescription:

Published: Februar 6, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner’s latest twisty thrill ride, Detective D. D. Warren and “Find Her”‘s Flora Dane return in a race against the clock to either save a young girl’s life . . . or bring her to justice.

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me.

Review –

The execution-style murders of a family and the disappearance of their eldest daughter once again bring together a seasoned homicide detective and a kidnap victim–turned-vigilante to find the killer.

In the Boston suburb of Brighton, it’s Detective D.D. Warren’s  least favorite kind of crime: the slaughter of a family. Juanita Baez, her boyfriend, Charlie Boyd, her 13-year-old daughter, Lola, and her 9-year-old son, Manny, are all dead, shot to death in their home. Conspicuously absent are 16-year-old Roxanna Baez and the family’s two elderly dogs. Warren and her team weigh the possibility that Roxy was abducted or the more chilling one: that she murdered her family. Turns out Juanita wasn’t always a perfect mother; the state removed her children five years earlier due to her drinking, placing the girls in the almost Dickensian Mother Del’s foster home, where all manner of abuse went on under the radar. In a rare instance of family reunification, Juanita regained custody, but the girls’ time in foster care changed them. In an awkwardly patched-in subplot, another Gardner regular, kidnap survivor Flora Dane, who now runs a support/empowerment group of sorts for women who’ve lived through similar trauma, realizes Roxy approached her group before disappearing, making Flora determined to find her before the police do. She and D.D. enter an uneasy, and entirely unexpected partnership, each exploring her own leads in a case that, while tragic, is a bit on the predictable side but not taking away from the energy of the chase and capture of the bad guy.

Great read!

Second Skin by Christian White

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Listening Length: 4 hours and 28 minutes

Stan Weir is mourning a tragic loss when he meets a mysterious nine-year-old girl, who claims to be the reincarnated spirit of his late wife. Marcy Keef is a single mother trying to make ends meet, when her daughter Erin starts describing “past life memories.” Neither wants to believe Erin, but as violent secrets are revealed, the truth becomes harder to deny.

With echoes of Stephen King, Second Skin is a propulsive thriller about grief, guilt, and truths better left unknown.

Review –

This book is one released only on Audible and free for members in April 2020. Audible usually provides 5-7 free books at the first of every month and in April I chose four. In May, I didn’t;t choose any-none of them were “my cup of tea”, but I love that they do that for their members.

At four and a half hours of audio it is not a long book, but I thought the author packed quite a lot of story, characterizations and twists in that short period. It was an easy listen and I did not see the ending coming until a large twist was revealed.

Second Skin was a good mystery with a paranormal angle to it and some unexpected twists along the way. Can’t reveal too much as it would be a spoiler. The narration by Ellen Archer in all voices was especially outstanding.

The cover image seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, unless I blinked and missed it. I hate this! I wish I had the job of choosing book covers, but a girl can only dream!

If this book comes out later this year in print or e-book form you should really give it a try. You will not be disappointed .

Loved it!

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

A Thin Dark Line (Broussard and Fourcade #1,Doucet #4)) by Tami Hoag

Book Description:

Published:  April 1, 1998

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Terror stalks the streets of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. A suspected murderer is free on a technicality, and the cop accused of planting evidence against him is ordered off the case. But Detective Nick Fourcade refuses to walk away. He’s stepped over the line before. This case threatens to push him over the edge.

He’s not the only one. Deputy Annie Broussard found the woman’s mutilated body. She still hears the phantom echoes of dying screams. She wants justice. But pursuing the investigation will mean forming an alliance with a man she doesn’t trust and making enemies of the men she works with. It will mean being drawn into the confidence of a killer. For Annie Broussard, finding justice will mean risking everything—including her life.

The search for the truth has begun—one that will lead down a twisted trail through the steamy bayous of Louisiana, and deep into the darkest reaches of the human heart.

Review –

This is a psychosexual thriller about tough Cajun loners looking for love in unlikely places.

Heroine Annie Broussard is a deputy with the sheriff’s office in Partout Parish in southern Louisiana. An orphan who’s working hard to make detective, she’s also devoted to getting rid of the sexual predators who victimize women. But just as her career seems to be looking up, Annie breaks an unwritten police law: She arrests a fellow officer, Nick Fourcade, when she finds him beating up a murder suspect. Annie should have let Fourcade kill him, say both her colleagues and the bayou parish citizens. After all, the suspect, Marcus Renard, had supposedly stalked Pam Bichon, a single mother. He’d driven stakes through her hands, raped her, killed her, eviscerated her, then left her wearing only a feathered Mardi Gras mask in a deserted cottage on Pony Bayou. Why not kill him? Switching his obsession from Pam to Annie, he maintains that he’s innocent and begs Annie to help him. Working with Fourcade, who’s suspended but still obsessed with the case, she seeks evidence to put the troubled Marcus legally behind bars. Meanwhile, someone’s raping Louisiana women, and Marcus is too injured to be the perp. Is it Annie’s lazy, mean-spirited colleague Stokes? Or Pam’s husband, involved with a New Orleans racketeer from Fourcade’s past? As Mardi Gras approaches, Annie, a cute kid who does fifty chin-ups a day and has an addiction to candy bars, wrestles with Fourcade’s dangerous sexualityfortunately a losing battle—and with the evil presence of deranged male predators who aren’t who they seem.

I read the second book first and it did not dampen my enjoyment of this one, but rather, gave me a better understanding go the characters. I don’t understand why this author has not written any more books in this series. Maybe she will surprise me one day.

 

 

 

 

The Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #1) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Triggers: Yes

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.
And I’m the girl who got in their way.

Review –

OMG….I dont even know where to start with this one!! There are NO words! I’m totally #abraygirlforlife !

What do you get when you pair a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with three bad boys who run the town? The answer is: a world that you crave to live in. Boys you salivate over. A girl who is tough as nails, takes no BS from anyone. You get the most amazing story with EVERYTHING. Raven, Maddoc (new book boyfriend), Royce and Captain are just amazing characters, that the author effortlessly makes you fall in love with. All four strong, fierce, loyal and independant. They have a way of getting under you skin and living there.

I had the audio version and listened to it almost in one sitting. I just had to know WTF was going on. The author kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, just waiting for that moment that my jaw would hit the damn floor and pause my listening device and just TRY to slow my heartbeat!  And when it did, boy did I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m so invested in this world, in these characters, in this story.

The level of angst in this book (which is OFF THE CHARTS) had my head spinning and my mind going all over the place. Readers will be in a continual state of “what the actual F***”, then jumping to “oh he** no”, all while their hearts will be racing and their mind will be swimming with questions.

There is so much that goes on in this book that I can not do it justice, so invest in a copy (written or audio) and hang on for the ride of your life. it has drama plus revelations you don’t see coming. There are hot steamy sex scenes and one that will have you blushing from head to toe!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I loved it?

 

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

The internationally bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish follows that success with an addictive novel filled with shocking twists about the aftermath of a brutal high-society murder.

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Review –

This book is about murder, mental health, friendship, secrets, marriage, money, memory, and mother-daughter relationships. It’s well paced – not fast, not slow – and this pacing kept me engaged throughout the book.

Kate is a unreliable narrator just like Nellie/Vanessa in The Wife Between Us, and she gets worse as the story progresses. I wasn’t sure if she was imagining things or if she was the person wreaking all of the havoc. I would have liked more of a backstory on her, but this book had plenty of character development and I enjoyed the ride.

Liv Constantine’s last book drew me in right away and when I got comfortable with its direction, bombs were dropped and the plot turned unexpectedly. This time, I was on guard for bombs as I read this book. I was not disappointed; I loved the surprises, twists, and turns.

If compared to The Wife Between Us, I like this book so much more. It was creepier and had more mystery and suspense. It has a sinister feel and everyone seemed to have an ulterior motive; it was hard to figure out who to trust. This book is a psychological suspense and thriller wrapped in one, and I loved it.

 

Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli

Book Description:

Published: January 5, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 3

Everyone has secrets, and Rachel Holloway is no exception.She’s worked hard to keep the past where it belongs: dead and buried. And so far, she’s been very successful.

But now the small newspaper where she works wants to produce a podcast on a cold case: the disappearance twelve years ago of little Molly Forster.

Some secrets should never see the light of day, and as far as Rachel is concerned, whatever happened to little Molly is one of them. Rachel has a life now, a boyfriend she loves and a three-year-old daughter she adores, and she will do anything to protect them.

But to do that, no one can ever know that she is Molly Forster.

Review –

I’m usually a big crime drama fan, but this one sucked.

Rachel Holloway works at a floundering newspaper with the bright idea to boost readership by starting a podcast focused on a true unsolved crime story: what happened to little Molly Forster, the 12-year old only survivor of the massacre of her family twelve years earlier? Rachel panics, and does everything she can to sabotage the podcast, because she has a secret: she is Molly. And she’s been hiding ever since, terrified that the killer would finish what he started.

My problem is that from the get-go we know where the missing child is and who she is and a few chapters later we discover who the killer is. So why read any more? it’s a done deal. Of course, I finished this book(because I never NOT finish a book) but it was a real struggle to the very end.

I do like the cover very much, however.