Unmasked, Volume One (Unmasked #1) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

I was born into this world unwanted.

I spent the first hours of my life unloved.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life with the parents who tried to shelter me from the harsh reality of my existence.

But you can’t un-write a sad story if the ending is literally written all over your face.

So I moved out and now I hide. I have a night job that pays the bills. Every night, I put on my mask and walk to work.

Then one night, I hear and see something that will change my purpose in life… forever: a murder that will bring him to me.

He says he wants to protect me. And, through a series of events I can’t fully make sense of, I find myself believing him.

But our nightly visits are always cloaked in darkness. I don’t know his face and he will never know mine.

I was born into this world unwanted. I will leave this world unmasked.

Review –

WTH !!!

This has to be the strangest book that I have listened/read in a very long time, I mean my mouth was agape at the end. I couldn’t believe it!  Still can’t.

This series has three parts or volumes and this first installment explores Alex’s past, the notion of beauty, the necessity of hiding, the consequences of secrets and betrayals. You can easily devour this first volume in one sitting  Enlivened by the author’s expert writing, you’ll be lured in by this sinister tale and fascinated by this 19-year-old girl whose actions are so unexpected that it keeps you guessing at what will surprise you next. Certainly the end was shocking in more ways than one!

A chilling mystery where desire, deception, secrets and betrayal mix in a deadly combination that leaves you wanting more.

Five stars.

Advertisements

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

Book Description:

Published: May 19, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

Review –

This is the story of Erin, partly written in first person and told over a dual timeline. Sixteen year old Erin is in love, pregnant and being told what is best for her by adults. They all make sense but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Present day, ten years later, Erin is living in London working at a beauty salon when she receives a blast from the past phone call from her old school friend, Roisin, in Ireland. The call is disturbing and unsettling for Erin and within hours she receives another urgent call from her sister, Fiona, informing her that their father is in intensive care with a serious head injury. From here Erin is forced back to Ireland to be with her family and knows she will also have to face the dreaded Roisin who she knows she will bump into in the small village they live in.

Sue Fortin writes beautifully and competently with unease and tense moments at each chapter ending. Her characters are realistic and visual with enough description to make them authentic without becoming mundane or boring. There is just the right amount of teasing romance to add to the suspense but without distracting from the gripping storyline. The text is rich and written with depth and meaning, and several times I thought I’d guessed what was coming, sometimes I did guess correctly but it didn’t spoil the outcome at all because there was twist and revelation, one on top of another. I found the book totally compelling and couldn’t put it down.

I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes psychological suspense.

My first five-star book of the year!

Domination (Submission #2) by CD Reiss

Book Description

Published: November 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I want to just clarify a couple of things.
Submission is not abdication. Submission is not resignation. It’s not weak or fragile. It doesn’t mean I break at the first sign of trouble.
Well, I broke for a few weeks. When I realized I was falling in love with Jonathan and that I’d never be the same if I allowed it to continue, I broke into a million sharp little pieces. I think I damaged him in the process.
But what could I do?
Stay with him and untangle the mess of his life? Commit to his rules, his secrets, his troubles?
No. Just, no.
If we’re doing this, we’re doing it. If I’m committing, it’s to a man, not a lie. I’ll strip away everything between us, even if it ends us.

Review –

In this book we learn more about Jonathan’s past and drama.. his ex-wife constantly wanting to ruin him and get his money.. his crazy family and secrets. Monica still fighting to get a place on the music industry.. she wants to be herself not to be attached to any men last name and power. She wants to show that she is strong and doesn’t need any money or a man to hold her back.. even thou she keeps failing to achieve that when it comes to Jonathan.There’s a lot of twists and turns in Domination, people keeps trying to break them apart. lies, secrets and a past that keeps trying to come between them.The love between Jonathan and Monica is so surreal and very strong and in this book their relationship evolves even more, it get deeper and closer.. their feelings are more palpable, their love overflows the pages of the book.. is like you get to feel how strong their feelings are for each other, is just breathtaking to read about these two.

The sex between  Jonathan and Monica is darker and fiercer  and very very explicit. Jonathan is a sexual sadist and poor Monica takes anything he can dish out. I feel she is too submissive  in these cases.

This installment of the Submission series ends in a surprising cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming. Can’t wait to start the third and last book in the series, Connection, but first I have another book to read from Overdrive.

 

Submission (Submission #1) by CD Reiss

Book Description:

Published: November 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

****GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AND ADULT SITUATIONS****

Jonathan Drazen. Gorgeous. Charming. Smart. Rich.
All the ingredients for a few nights of mind-blowing pleasure are right there. He’s made it perfectly clear he can’t love me, and I’m not out to fall in love either.
But I can’t stay away from him. He’s got this bossy way about him in bed. The word “Sir,” falls from my lips, and when he tells me to get on my knees…well, my knees have a mind of their own.
I got this. I can be his slave for a few nights and walk away unscathed.
We get in. Get it on. Get the hell out. Done.
He knows the line between love and lust. It’s right between my legs.
Now, let’s see if that line blurs for me.

Review –

Jonathan Drazen tops my list of favorite book boyfriends, favorite sadists, and all-time favorite men. I want him all to myself. Rich, witty, brilliant, gorgeous, and a demon in the bedroom – oh yes, Jonathan Drazen is the ultimate hero. Monica Faulkner could not be any more kick ass if she tried. Her attraction to Drazen, her voice, her honesty, her looks, her morals, her self-preservation all contribute to a neatly yet chaotic wrapped package of beauty in a heroine. Add to these brilliant characters the non-stop, intriguing plots of the story, secondary characters who make their tale even better, and scorching, sizzling, smoking sex scenes made unable to put these books down. The writing of CD Reiss pulls you in from the very first sentence and she continually gives more and more to the reader as the story moves forward. Her books are addicting, smart, brilliantly written, and a gift to readers. I’m so happy I’ve discovered this series, and this unforgettable couple.

On to Book Two.

 

 

Kingdom of the Blind (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #14) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: November 27, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When Armand Gamache receives a letter inviting him to an abandoned farmhouse outside of Three Pines, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him as an executor of her will.

Armand never knew the elderly woman, and the bequests are so wildly unlikely that he suspects the woman must have been delusional – until a body is found, and the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem far more menacing.

But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing. The investigation into the events that led to his suspension has dragged on, and Armand is taking increasingly desperate measures to rectify previous actions. As he does, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots – and the terrible things hiding there.

Review –

“The Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec finds himself in a unique position: He’s tangled up in the life of a recently deceased woman, and it doesn’t involve her murder.

As the first snowflakes of a major storm start to fall, Chief Superintendent Gamache is standing in front of a crooked house in the middle of the woods, unsure of whom he will find inside. Curiosity is what brings him here after receiving a vague invitation in the mail. But is there danger waiting beyond the door? It’s what Gamache has been trained to anticipate. Currently suspended from his Sûreté post during the investigation into the controversial events of Glass Houses (2017), Gamache must remember he’s here on unofficial business. He and two others who arrive at the house learn that they’ve been named executors of a will belonging to a woman they never knew in life. Stranger still, the woman, who called herself the Baroness, has left millions to her three children, money everyone is shocked to hear about. Her secretiveness was fueled by generations of family bitterness and resentment. And though it may seem like Gamache has all the time in the world to dive into this dark history, his attention is in fact divided: The deadly opioid that slipped untraced into Montreal under Gamache’s watch is expected to hit the streets any day—a most unsettling thought. The author reveals a deeper vulnerability in the introspective Gamache; is it possible he’s not quite sure of himself anymore? A theme of desperation plays out in both story arcs, as characters from all walks of life move between hope and despair and traverse the fine line that separates them. The main mystery pales in comparison to Gamache’s interior story, and the decisions he makes are sure to raise a few eyebrows. Moral duty has been synonymous with our hero, but Penny seems to be pushing her characters in new directions with this installment: “[Gamache] considered his options and the atrocity he was about to commit.” The ending is adrenaline-filled but, no, not because of the mysterious will.”

Five Stars!!!!!!!

This series ranks Number One on my list of Favorite Foreign Crime Fiction Series.

Because of the decision Chief Inspector Gamache made in the previous book, Glass Houses, he has willingly resigned  from his beloved post and his son-in-law and right hand man has decided to quit the force also. He is taking a safer job and moving his family to Paris.

While the author has tied up some continuing story lines, she also  sends recurring characters in surprising directions in this riveting installment.

Can’t wait for the next book which should be released next August.

 

Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

Book Description:

Published: May 29, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

Review –

The author returns to the world of bestseller Caraval , this time with the focus on younger, more daring sister Donatella.

Valenda, capital of the empire, is host to the second of Legend’s magical games in a single year, and while Scarlett doesn’t want to play again, blonde Tella is eager for a chance to prove herself. She is haunted by the memory of her death in the last game and by the cursed Deck of Destiny she used as a child which foretold her loveless future. Garber has changed many of the rules of her expanding world, which now appears to be infused with magic and evil Fates. Despite a weak plot and ultraviolet prose (“He tasted like exquisite nightmares and stolen dreams, like the wings of fallen angels, and bottles of fresh moonlight.”), this is a tour de force of imagination. Themes of love, betrayal, and the price of magic (and desire) swirl like Caraval’s enchantments, and Dante’s sensuous kisses will thrill readers as much as they do Tella. The convoluted machinations of the Prince of Hearts (one of the Fates), Legend, and even the empress serve as the inspiration for Tella’s story and set up  the future volumes, which promises to go bigger. 

I didn’t care for this installment of the Caraval series because the focus wasn’t really the game, like the first one. There were many players, who weren’t really players and goals that were seemingly impossible. But, it’s only a book and the author can write it any way she chooses. My favorite part was the last few chapters where things really start to happen and we find out the identity of Legend.

Can’t wait for the third and final book which comes out next year.

 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors–a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Review –

Holy Smokes! What a roller coaster ride!

The Couple Next Door had me gripped right from the very beginning. It essentially follows the disappearance of Marco and Anne’s baby daughter Cora, who is taken from her bed one night while the couple attend a dinner party next door. The couple are racked with guilt, and as the investigation continues, more and more secrets and betrayals are revealed…

The narrative is told in the third-person and follows the experiences of Anne, Marco, Detective Rasbach and Jennings, the couple’s next door neighbour Cynthia, and Anne’s parents Richard and Alice. The narrative provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of all of the characters, as they attempt to piece together the puzzle that is Cora’s disappearance.

Anne and Marco are the central protagonists. Anne, suffering with Postpartum (or Postnatal) depression after the birth of her daughter Cora, is racked with guilt and anxiety after her disappearance. She struggles to cope emotionally, and seeks comfort from her parents and husband. Her motherly instincts take over, and she will ultimately do anything to save her daughter. But of course, she has a few secrets lurking in her own past.

Marco is strong and determined, and puts on a brave face to support his wife. But deep down he is really struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and Cora’s disappearance challenges everything he thought he knew. I flitted between hating Marco and feeling sympathy for him, and if you read the book you’ll discover why. He makes some major mistakes, and must pay the price for them. Marco is a much more complex character than he first appears to be.

The other minor characters are all excellently portrayed. Rasbach and Jennings attempt to solve the case as efficiently as they can, but when lots of new clues and curveballs are thrown in, the investigation becomes difficult. Anne’s parents Richard and Alice are incredibly rich, and it seems they will do anything to get their grandchild back. And the neighbors Cynthia and Graham are much more complex than they first appear to be.

As the narrative goes on, more and more mysteries and secrets are revealed. This is a novel where you think you know where the story is going – but then the author throws in a clever curveball, and all expectations are reversed. There is an excellent attention to detail in this highly-complex narrative – it’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” kind of narrative. It does require lots of concentration and attention from the reader, but is definitely worth it in my opinion.

So, let’s talk about the ending. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the final ending, and to me that majorly let the book down. I was pleased with what I thought was the final revelation, as it gave a sense of hope for the future of the characters. But then a new element in thrown into the story, and to me it just seemed unnecessary and too exaggerated to be deemed as realistic and for me, ruined the whole story. One minute there was a happy ending and the next there was anything but.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who like domestic thrillers, particularly if you enjoy reading complex, multi-layered plots. It has excellently-constructed characters, plenty of mystery and suspense, and killer twists. The ending did really disappoint me, but don’t let that put you off – you might enjoy it! A great read.

 

The Reunion by Samatha Hayes

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

They were all there the day your sister went missing…Who is lying? Who is next?

Then–In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom. Eleanor never came back.

Now–The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

Review –

Have you noticed that there seems to be an abundance of children going missing crime/psychological thrillers on the market at the moment, and wasn’t convinced that author would be able to put an original spin on a well used subject, but somehow she does.

The book begins with the disappearance of teenager Eleanor, while spending the day at the beach with her brother, sister and their friends. Fast forward twenty one years and her family are still no closer to knowing what happened to her all those years ago. Dad, Patrick is now suffering from Alzheimers, and daughter Claire decides that a reunion of friends and family could help her dad with his memory issues. As the group of friends are reunited they find themselves plunged into a further nightmare as shocking secrets are slowly revealed.

If I’m honest I thought the first half of the book was very slow, the time is spent introducing an array of characters and building on the mystery and suspense surrounding Eleanor’s disappearance. None of the characters were extremely likable, but that said it did not stop me enjoying this book. The author manages to ramp up the tension by creating characters that are almost impossible to trust.

The Reunion has some great twists and misleading clues to make this an intense and a heart pounding  read. If I had anything negative to say it would be that a few things were left unanswered by the time I reached the end, but never the less it still made for an intriguing read and I gave it five stars!

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Review –

I absolutely loved this book!

Anyone who grew up watching horror movies in the 1980s knows that summer camp can be a dangerous place.

It certainly was for Emma Davis during her first stay at Camp Nightingale. The other three girls in her cabin disappeared one night, never to return. Fifteen years have passed, years in which Emma has revisited this ordeal again and again through her work as a painter. When she’s offered another opportunity to spend a summer at the camp, Emma barely hesitates. She’s ostensibly there to serve as an art instructor, but her real mission is to finally find out what happened to her friends.

Thrillers are, by their very nature, formulaic. The author met the demands of the genre while offering a fresh, anxiety-inducing story in Final Girls. The author is less successful here. Part of the problem is the pacing. It’s so slow that the reader has ample time to notice how contrived the novel’s setup is.

Emma is clearly unwell, so her decision to go back to the site of her trauma makes some sense, but it’s hard to believe that the camp’s owners would want her back, especially since she played a pivotal role in turning one of them into a suspect and nearly ruining his life. As a first-person narrator, Emma withholds a lot of information, which feels fake and frustrating; moreover, the revelations—when they come—are hardly worth the wait. And it’s hard to trust an author who gets so many details wrong. For example, Emma’s first summer at Camp Nightingale would have been around 2003 or so. It beggars belief that a 13-year-old millennial wouldn’t be amply prepared for her first period, but that’s what Sager wants readers to think. There’s a contemporary scene in which girls walk by in a cloud of baby powder, Noxzema, and strawberry-scented shampoo, imagery that is intensely evocative of the 1970s and ’80s—not so much 2018. The novel is shot through with such discordant moments, moments that lift us right out of the narrative and shatter the suspense.

But, with that being said, I loved the book and count Riley Sager as one of my new favorite writers.

The Absent One (Department Q #2) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t what Mørck—or readers—expected, but by the opening of Adler-Olsen’s shocking, fast-paced follow-up, Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk: A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects—part of a group of privileged boarding-school students—confessed and was convicted. But once Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streets, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried . . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.

Review –

“Ditlev Pram is a founder of private hospitals. Ulrik Dybbøl Jensen is a stock market analyst. Torsten Florin is a prominent designer. Before they achieved their success, however, they were fifth-form students together at Rødovre High School along with Kristian Wolf, Bjarne Thøgersen and Kirsten-Marie Lassen. These last three haven’t done so well. Kristian died in an apparent hunting accident; Bjarne is doing time for killing Lisbet Jørgeneon and her brother Søren back in 1987; and Kimmie is living on the streets of Copenhagen. Now new evidence suggests that all six of them were responsible for the Jørgensens’ deaths and for a whole lot more mayhem as well. The upshot of Carl’s dogged investigation is to get himself suspended from the force. But aided and abetted by his loyal Syrian assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his new secretary, Rose Knudsen, assigned to his unit after she failed her police driving test, he continues to build a case against his influential quarry, themselves desperate to track down Kimmie, whose voices have been telling her that it’s time to get revenge on them for their mistreatment of her. The long, eventful, often tedious chase climaxes in a wild hunt guaranteed to satisfy the most bloodthirsty readers.

As in Department Q’s debut (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2011), Adler-Olsen plots and writes with both eyes on Stieg You-Know-Who. The result is overscaled, lumpy, strenuously unnuanced and destined for the bestseller lists.”

Kirkus Review

I love this series and can’t wait to read the next one!