Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Troy Brennan

Every southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart throb with steel blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city.

Oh, and my new husband.

Sparrow Raynes

That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life.
But then he caged me.
Kidnapped me.
And killed every chance I had to runaway from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.

I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’d ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he’d decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.

Sparrow is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.

Review –

Sparrow Raynes is a survivor. She can’t be caged or caught or forced unless she wants to.  Abandoned by her mother at an early age and caretaker for her alcoholic father, she has learned that life is never going to be easy.  She was never going to have free and easy. She had to work for everything she has. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind working hard for what she loves.  She’s going to cooking school with dreams of owning a food truck one day. Until, everything gets taken from her… yet again.

Troy Brennan knows death. He knows blood and loss and pain.  The son of a murdered mobster. When he was nineteen and Sparrow only nine, his father made him make another promise –to marry and take care of Sparrow.  Another burden that his father heaped on him. He is stuck with her, but he won’t ever love her and she better get used to it.

Troy Brennan is on a mission to avenge his murdered father.  But before he can finish his mission he has to full fill  a promise to his father first.  Marry Sparrow Raynes. Yes, he’ll be stuck with her, but that’s beside the point.  He doesn’t have to like her. He is just full-filling the promise he made to the father the loved. He informed her of their impending marriage by take her from her home, installing her into his apartment, supplying her with take out menus and leaving her to it.  Have a good week.

Marriage is new for him. Feeling are new to him. Her spark of fire and take-no-shit attitude attract Troy. She reminds him of… well, him. He doesn’t really see the point in caring about her. He know their relationship is doomed from the beginning.But he does like to see her occupied and maybe a little happy. (It would get her out of the house and allow him to see his mistress without having the worry about her) So when he finds out that she likes to cook he installs her into his high end restaurant where she meets Brock, right hand man of Troy and restaurant manager.

Sparrow tries to finds her way in the new world that she is trust into.  Working, jogging, meeting with friends.  Living with her awful husband as best she can, but it’s more that difficult.  He cheats on her openly and living with him is a chore.  She tries to connect with him but he takes joy in trying to make her feel small.  Well, good luck with that.  She can’t be taken down by a man like her husband.

As the days go on, Troy watches Sparrow take all of his challenges and rise above them. All of them. She is strong. She proves that daily.  He stops looking at his mistress as the ideal beauty and starts to really see this small, red haired, girl-woman as the true beauty and warrior that she really is.  As he learns more about her life, he finds she has survived much more than he knew.

When she is taken on the street on morning, Troy must finally come to feel and acknowledge the feeling that he hasn’t been dealing with for a few weeks. He has to find her.  He finally sees what his hate has been blinding him to for too many years.  He has to save his wife. He does and fast forward and he frees her from their marriage and eventually she realizes she can not live without him and there is a very HEA.

I loved this book.  I loved the story and the characters, although, Troy at first, not so much!   The pace of the plot is good.  You get to see the couple first hate each other, then slowly find things they liked about each other and then come to love each other in the ways that they can, but so much of this book is about Troy’s mission and Sparrow’s past.  Troy isn’t ever going to be anything but who he is, but once he figures out that he loves her, Troy loves her wholeheartedly.

Loved this book and the narration was great, although might have been plus five stars with the addition of a female narrator.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A Simple Favor by Darcy Bell

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Review –

“The formula is familiar: The author’s debut is a pale facsimile of The Girl on the Train. True to template, the novel tells the same story from the differing and self-serving perspectives of three narrators. Stephanie is a blogger who writes about mom issues. Recently widowed and raising small son Miles alone, she overshares all manner of anxieties on her blog. Her husband and her half brother died together in a tragic auto crash, but later we learn the edgy part: her husband had suspicions about her ongoing affair with her half brother. Stephanie forms a play-date friendship with fellow Connecticut mom Emily, a busy publicist for a top Manhattan fashion designer. Certainly, Emily has an unusual fondness for serial-killer movies and Patricia Highsmith novels—and, thanks to her high-powered job, is always sticking Stephanie with the kids—but Stephanie thinks, and blogs, that she’s finally found a true friend. The two do share a common dysfunctional past: estrangement from Midwestern parents. After Emily disappears during a business trip, however, the POV shifts to her, and we learn that she and her Wall Street trader husband, Sean (who’s the third narrator), planned to fake her death in order to cash in on a $2 million life insurance policy so they and their son, Nicky, could escape the rat race. From here, the typical who’s-playing-whom standoff between the three principals unspools, and violence accelerates. There are plenty of rationalizations cited by Sean and Emily as to why their scam makes sense, in spite of the likelihood that $2 million is a drop in Sean’s annual bonus bucket, and, in any case, how much time away from the rat race would it really buy? This is just one of many unconvincing motivations driving the plot, which will amply satisfy readers’ lowest expectations.

More like “girl on a train wreck.”” Kirkus Reviews

This would make the perfect book to pack for vacation!

 

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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

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

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

Review –

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

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

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

Missing,Presumed(DI Manon #1) by Susie Steiner

Book Description:

Published: February 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Review –

DI Manon Bradshaw  is sad and lonely, estranged from her sister and something of a misanthrope. She is single, 39-years old and  listens to her police radio to help drown out the loneliness while she goes to sleep, But she’s also funny and clever, and interesting. Going to watch a Swedish film at the cinema, alone, she muses: “The Swedes are a nation who appreciate morbidity, unlike the British, who are just as depressed as everyone else but who like to project their darker feelings, saying to people in the street, ‘Cheer up, it might never happen!’

Her personal life seems a complete disaster, but her professional interest and energy are piqued when the beautiful graduate-student daughter of a famous physician goes missing, apparently the victim of foul play. As the investigation into free-spirited Edith Hind’s disappearance uncovers no strong leads, Manon finds herself drawn to two unconventional males: one, a possible romantic partner, plays a tangential role in the investigation when he finds a body; the other, a young boy with a tragic home life, mourns the death of his brother, who also might have ties to Edith or her family.

As Manon draws nearer to the truth about Edith, aided by her idealistic partner, Davy, and their team of homicide detectives, she also has to face the fact that she might not be destined to follow the traditional domestic model. Though it follows all the typical twists and turns of a modern police procedural, this novel stands out from the pack in two significant ways: first of all, in the solution, which reflects a sophisticated commentary on today’s news stories about how prejudices about race and privilege play out in our justice system; and second, in the wounded, compassionate, human character of Manon. Her struggles to define love and family at a time when both are open to interpretation make for a highly charismatic and engaging story.

There is a HEA for both Edith and DI Bradshaw, but not in the way of a fairytale.

Looking forward to reading more in this series.

 

 

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Book Description:

Published: September 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing down in both her professional and her personal life, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, Beth sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the Hudson and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

Review –

Manhattan author, Liza Cole, the protagonist of this engrossing psychological thriller from author Cate Holahan, is under pressure from her editor, Trevor, to write a romantic suspense novel that will get her back on the bestseller lists. In the past, Trevor has settled for a rough idea; now he wants an outline, which Liza has never done, and he has given her exactly thirty days to produce one.
On the personal side, Liza and her lawyer husband, David, are trying to conceive a baby, and their sex life has suffered. In addition, David’s best friend and law partner, Nick Landau, has been missing for a month and is almost certainly dead.
Over the next month, as her deadline approaches, Liza draws on her suppressed emotions and memories to create the heroine of her new book, Beth, a young mother who suspects her husband of being unfaithful. Beth’s story line soon takes turns that echo sinister developments in Liza’s own life. Holahan keeps the suspense high by leaving it unclear who’s telling the truth and who’s lying until the surprising denouement.
I’m not going to tell you what happens but it’s a roller coaster of a ride with a great and satisfying ending.
Loved it!

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review –

Another creeper of a book and I loved it FIVE STARS worth!

Sutton is gone but leaves a note saying NOT to try and  find her. She didn’t take ANYTHING with her. NOTHING!

Ethan doesn’t report her missing right away so naturally he’s the first person the police look at. They are both writers and at this point in their careers Sutton is the more prolific and successful. She’s not happy and hasn’t been for a long time. A particular mean book critic is trashing her online, Ethan tricked her into having a baby she didn’t want (he changed out her birth control pills for sugar  pills), her mother (not really her mother) is blackmailing her(we find out this much later),she thinks Ethan may have killed their baby, even though the medical examiner called it as SIDS, and there’s more.

Ethan on the other hand was unfaithful (one time) with Sutton’s best friend. He told her about the infidelity but not who he was with, he has writers block and is jealous of Sutton’s success, and when a body is found burned wearing Sutton’s rings, he is arrested for her murder.

Meanwhile, we learn Sutton has fled to Paris to start a new life, but she can’t get Ethan out of her mind, even when having sex with a man she meets in a cafe. the man seems a bit too friendly, but she throws caution to the wind. Lots of things happen and two American exchange students are killed and the knife is found in Sutton’s (now calling herself Justine) possession. She is arrested by the French police and just when it looked like there was no way out for either of them, a discovery was made as to the possible identity of the true culprit.

There is much much more to story but you need to read it for yourself.  It was a real edge of your seat page turner for me but I didn’t like the what happened at the very end. I thought it to be unnecessary, but still gave it FIVE STARS.

 

 

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 Lake House by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: October 20, 2015

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

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This was a very long audio book, over twenty-one hours, but the narrators did a magnificent job of telling the story that the hours flew by.

I was completely caught up in this epic tale of the Edevane family and a suspected kidnapping, guilt, young love, and secrets kept for decades.

The story bounces back and forth primarily between 1933, the year Theo, an eleven month baby, disappears and 2003, when Sadie Sparrow, a disgraced police officer, takes on the Edevane cold case. We do learn of the history of the Edevane family and their beloved estate, Loeanneth, in the Cornish countryside, through the eyes of the grandparents of the three Edevane girls, Deborah, Alice and Clemmie. All is not as it appears to be and secrets are kept between the sisters for several decades, finally coming to light to reveal the piece needed for Sadie to solve the “crime”. Totally did not see the twist coming. Fantastic writing!

Love this book and look forward to listening or reading more by this author.

Five stars *****

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Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline

Book Description:

Published: April 9, 2013

Lisa Scottoline’s Don’t Go introduces us to Dr. Mike Scanlon, an army doctor called to serve in Afghanistan, who is acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will bring his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a hero, but a healer.

However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparently freak household accident. Devastated, he returns home to bury her, only to discover that the life he left behind has fallen apart. He’s a stranger to his baby girl, and his medical practice has downsized in his absence. Worse, he learns a shocking secret that sends him into a downward spiral.

Grief-stricken, Mike makes decisions upon returning to Afghanistan which will change his life forever. It’s not until he comes home for good that he grasps the gravity of his actions, and realizes he must fight the most important battle of his life, to reclaim his life and his daughter. Along the way, he discovers that everything is not as it seems, and he learns ugly truths about those he loves the most, as well as the true meaning of heroism.

Review –

Although I rated this book four out of five stars, the narrator wasn’t the best and that irks me. A narrator is so important to the way an audio book is perceived and it’s like nails on a chalkboard if the narration isn’t done correctly, at least to me.

I enjoyed the storyline but thought that some of the characters seemed wishy-washy and flat.  I also thought that the story was predictable in parts and  so I would skip ahead a minute or two to get passed them.

I like Lisa Scottoline and her writing style but I think she needs to stick to the Rosato & Di Nunzio  series because that’s where she’s excels.

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