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!

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The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedstrom #5) by Camilla Lackberg

Book Description:

Published: June 20, 2011

Format: Audio/Audible

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death.

Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be . . .

Review –

“Three months ago, Erica Falck asked a collector of Nazi memorabilia about a medal she found among her mother’s effects. Now he’s discovered dead from a blow to the head, and the question of who killed him is only the first of many mysteries.

Best-selling Swedish author Läckberg (The Stranger, 2013, etc.) returns with her fourth novel about the crime-solving team of Erica Falck and her husband, detective Patrik Hedström. Their adorable daughter, Maja, has just turned one, Erica’s ready to return to her work writing novels (though she won’t be going far—just to the upstairs study), and Patrik’s embarking on four months of paternity leave. But Erica can’t concentrate, because Patrik keeps interrupting her with parenting questions and her mother’s diaries tempt her like a siren’s call. Maybe the diaries will explain why her mother was so emotionally distant. They’re filled with stories about her friends back in the 1940s, including Erik, the historian recently found dead; Axel, who joined the resistance during World War II, running dangerous missions; Frans, who grew up to be a politically active neo-Nazi; and Britta, a foolish girl who adored Frans. When Patrik takes Maja out for a walk one afternoon, he stumbles upon his colleagues and joins them in examining the crime scene at Erik’s home. Patrik and Erica are pulled deeply into the developing investigation. Soon the line between good and evil blurs as they delve into the complicated history of Swedish involvement in the war. Meanwhile, Erica’s sister Anna tries to broker peace between her new husband and stepdaughter, and Patrik’s gruff boss, Mellberg, adopts a dog and takes up salsa dancing. Läckberg deftly layers the dark details of the crime upon the disturbing seeds of its origin.

Fans of Nordic noir will appreciate this taut, twisty mystery enriched with historical detail.” Kirkus Review

Love this series and looking forward to reading or listening to more installments next year.

Us Against You (BearTown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Review –

Shockwaves from the incidents in Beartown, the first book, shake an economically depressed hockey town in this latest from the author of A Man Called Ove.

“Swedish novelist Backman loves an aphorism and is very good at them; evident in all his novels is an apparent ability to state a truth about humanity with breathtaking elegance. Often, he uses this same elegance to slyly misdirect his readers. Sometimes he overreaches and words that sound pretty together don’t hold up to scrutiny. This novel has a plethora of all three. Grim in tone, it features an overstocked cast of characters, all of whom are struggling for self-definition. Each has previously been shaped by the local hockey club, but that club is now being defunded and resources reallocated to the club of a rival town. Some Beartown athletes follow, some don’t. Lines are drawn in the sand. Several characters get played by a Machiavellian local politician who gets the club reinstated. Nearly all make poor decisions, rolling the town closer and closer to tragedy. Backman wants readers to know that things are complicated. Sure, many of Beartown’s residents are bigots and bullies. But some are generous and selfless. Actually, the bigots and bullies are also generous and selfless, in certain circumstances. And Lord knows they’ve all had a rough time of it. The important thing to remember is that hockey is pure. Except when it inspires violence. This is an interesting tactic for a novel in our cultural moment of sensitivity, and it can feel cumbersome. “When guys are scared of the dark they’re scared of ghosts and monsters,” he writes. “But when girls are scared of the dark they’re scared of guys.” Margaret Atwood said it better and with more authority decades ago.

Backman plays the story for both cynicism and hope, and his skill makes both hard, but not impossible, to resist.” Kirkus Reviews

The author gave us feelings of the highest highs and then dashed us back down to earth with the lowest lows. I was a nervous wreck for the entire book.  You will have to read the book (and why wouldn’t you) to know what I mean when I say that Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller and has a genius brain to keep everything straight when he wrote the accident scene near the very end of the book. I am in awe!

Five stars !!!!!

Fear Nothing ( Det. D.D. Warren #7) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio

My name is Dr. Adeline Glen. Due to a genetic condition, I can’t feel pain. I never have. I never will.

The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear. . . . She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose. The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D. D. Warren, who still can’t lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

Our father was Harry Day, an infamous serial killer who buried young women beneath the floor of our home. He has been dead for forty years. Except the Rose Killer knows things about my father he shouldn’t. My sister claims she can help catch him. I think just because I can’t feel pain doesn’t mean my family can’t hurt me.

D.D. may not be back on the job, but she is back on the hunt. Because the Rose Killer isn’t just targeting lone women, he is targeting D.D. And D.D. knows there is only one way to take him down:  Fear nothing.

Review –

“Recovering from a nasty fall down a flight of stairs, Detective D.D. Warren, of Boston Homicide, tangles with a pair of sisters who put her pain in a whole new perspective.

Forty years ago, Harry Day, about to be arrested for killing eight prostitutes, got his wife to slit his wrists before the police closed in. He left behind two young daughters: Shana, a sociopath who followed so closely in her father’s footsteps that she was jailed for life when she killed a neighborhood boy at age 14, and Adeline, not quite a year old when her father died, who’s grown up cursed by an inability to feel physical pain. Naturally, Adeline went to medical school and became a psychiatrist specializing in pain management, and it’s in that capacity that D.D. consults her after an accident at a blood-soaked crime scene leaves her with an impressive set of injuries. Christine Ryan, the victim who’s been smothered and flayed by someone who left behind a bottle of champagne, a pair of fur-lined handcuffs and a long-stemmed rose, is followed distressingly quickly by a second victim, occupational therapist Regina Barnes. Even worse, the handiwork of the Rose Killer is gruesomely linked to the criminal careers of Harry Day, dead these 40 years, and his daughter Shana, who’s been in the Massachusetts Correctional Institute for over 25 years. Alternating as usual between third-person chapters following D.D.’s investigation and first-person chapters dramatizing Adeline’s point of view, Gardner (Touch & Go, 2013, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of two troubled sisters so closely bound together by blood that they agree: “Blood is love.”

If you think Gardner pulled out all the stops in D.D.’s previous cases (Catch Me, 2012, etc.), you ain’t seen nothing yet. Better fasten your seat belt for this roller-coaster ride through family hell.” Kirkus Review

Fantastic read!!!!

 

Closer Than You Think (Romantic Suspense #16, Cincinnati #1) by Karen Rose

Book Description:

Published: November 6, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Deacon Novak has returned home. The experienced FBI Agent knows that his move to Cincinnati’s Major Crime Enforcement Squad will be challenging, but the greater challenge will be saving his younger brother before he becomes the kind of criminal Deacon is chasing. Faith Corcoran has escaped her identity. Being a therapist to victims of sex crimes was rewarding, but her work with their offenders has jeopardized her life. Her move represents a chance to build a new life in the empty old house her grandmother has left her. What Faith doesn’t know is that a killer has made the house his playground, taking girls into the basement and murdering them. And now Faith is about disturb his fun. With a murderer focused on her, Faith is going to have to put her trust in Deacon if she’s going to survive. Because this killer is always closer than she thinks…The first in a brand new series and Karen Rose at her tense, tantalising and thrilling best.

Review –

“Coming home to her family mansion in Cincinnati, Faith Corcoran hopes to escape a stalker, but the move puts her in even greater danger. Digging for answers with a sexy FBI agent brings unexpected love—if they can survive.

After a year of being stalked by an ex-con, psychologist Faith leaves Florida behind for a new start in her long-abandoned family home, which she inherited from her grandmother. Except that once she gets into town, she nearly runs over a young woman escaping from the boarded-up building, where it soon becomes clear that a serial killer has taken up residence. As body after body is uncovered in the basement, suspicion falls on Faith’s fractured family—including a couple of cousins and two estranged twin uncles. When the FBI is called in to support local law enforcement, Faith is drawn to Deacon Novak, an agent assigned to her case. Soon it becomes clear that someone is determined to kill her, and it’s probably not the previous stalker. In fact, the stalker may have been a convenient cover for someone else’s murderous intentions. Deacon and Faith begin to search for clues in Faith’s past and those of her grandparents and their two sons and two daughters, who have a mysterious history of wealth, secrets and betrayal. Yet as they work through years of lies and misunderstandings, and more bodies show up in other locations, the killer is tightening his net, and it includes Deacon, since it’s obvious that his relationship to Faith has become personal. Rose has written an intricately plotted mystery with enough suspects to keep us guessing and a chilling but believable killer who hides in plain sight.” Kirkus Review

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Fantastic read!  Five stars!!!!!

 

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: October 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Review –

I just finished listening to Without Merit by Colleen Hoover and had tears of joy in my eyes. I had also laughed out loud  at parts of the book and normally I abhor comedy or humor of any kind in books, movies, etc., but every member of the Voss family (the main focus of the book) are so dysfunctional that the humor somehow fit.

Merit Voss lives in a converted church with her father, stepmother, and siblings, and although her parents have been divorced for years, her mother still lives in the basement, struggling with social anxiety.(We initially think she is recovering from cancer) No one in her family is religious, so her brother Utah updates the church marquee every day with fun facts instead of Bible verses. Merit is less accomplished than her identical twin sister, Honor, so she likes to buy used trophies to celebrate her failures. But Honor seems to have a fetish for terminally ill boys, so it’s a surprise to Merit when Sagan, who is perfectly healthy, kisses Merit after mistaking her for her sister—and then reveals that he’s living in their house.

Soon they have another houseguest, Luck, whose connection to the family makes Merit even more convinced she’s living in a madhouse.(He is the half-brother of her step-mother) So why is everyone so angry at her? Merit has a love/hate relationship with her sister. She’s conflicted by her feelings for Sagan, who leaves intriguing sketches  around the house for her to decipher. She’s simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by Luck, who annoys her with his questions but is also her confidant. She can’t sit through dinner without starting a fight; she’s been skipping school for days; and when she decides to give her whole family the silent treatment, Sagan is the only one who notices. In fact, he and Luck are the only people in the house who recognize Merit’s quirks for what they really are—cries for help.(They believe she is suffering from depression) And when Merit takes drastic measures to be heard, the fallout is both worse and much better than she feared. The author  does an excellent job of revealing the subtle differences between healthy teenage rebellion and clinical depression, and Merit’s aha moment is worthy of every trophy in her collection.

Merit is quirky, complex, and frustrating but  will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental illness in a life-affirming story that redefines what’s normal.

Five stars!

Side Note – Sagan is swoon worthy and has been added to my list of Book Boyfriends.

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: June 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

Review –

Although the author relies on multiple points of view to tell (and retell) the larger story of the “Building Site Baby” as the unidentified infant comes to be known. Three other female characters get drawn into this story by learning about that same news item that piqued Kate’s curiosity. First to appear is a nervous young woman named Emma who’s married to an older professor; like Kate, Emma spots the story in the evening paper and reacts in a gush of purple prose: “I keep reading it over and over. I can’t take it in properly, as if it’s a foreign language. . . . [T]error is coiling around me. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. Making it hard to breathe.”

Then there is Jude, Emma’s mother, a narcissist, who quickly puts an end to the conversation by saying, “Well, we don’t want to talk about dead babies, do we?”

And finally, Angela, an emotionally fragile older woman, is the most sympathetic of the trio. Back in 1970, she gave birth to a baby daughter whom she named Alice. The next day, Alice disappeared from her cot in the hospital. When Angela spots the building-site baby article in the newspaper, she shouts out loud and then insists to her husband, “It’s just after [Alice’s] birthday. That could be a sign.” But the couple has been down this road too many times before. “It will be more heartbreak if you get your hopes up,” advises Angela’s husband. “It’ll make you ill like before.”

How do these three women fit together or do they? Who is the “Building Sight” baby and what happened to it all those years ago?

This was a great read with a great twist at the end.

Loved It!

 

 

 

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Review –

I am on a FIVE STAR roll! This book was fantastic, a bit on the creepy side, a bit sexual, and a whole lot surprising! Even though it is not a young adult novel, it would appeal to older teens because Olive, the daughter of the mother who disappeared, is a teen.

Just when you think you have everything figured out, BAM – it’s not at all what you thought. I love it when an author can pull that off.

So many things happen in this book, and I refuse to give out any spoilers, but it’s a real thrill ride with a big leap at the end.

I highly recommend this book.

 

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Book Description:

Published: March 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

Review –

I both read and listened to this book and found the dual experience very interesting.

I loved this book for several reasons :

  1. The friends were all outcasts and didn’t really let it affect them, especially Lydia.
  2. The sarcastic humor, mainly from Lydia.
  3. The small town setting in the South .
  4. The affection the friends felt for one another, either shown or not.
  5. The thread of enduring friendship that runs throughout the book.
  6. The tear-jerking sadness of losing a friend.
  7. The courage of Dill to finally take steps to change his life.
  8. Lydia and Dill having a relationship and then going to college miles from each other and having the courage to do so.

Are you seeming the pervading theme of the storyline: Courage!   Even Travis, who dies too soon, and caused me to use numerous Kleenex, had the courage to get outside his comfort zone with Amelia.

Though this book is classified as Young Adult I think it needs to be read by everyone.

Five stars!

 

 

 

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