The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Review –

Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger is billed as being a sequel to her highly successful All the Missing Girls, although as far as I can tell, there are no common characters or plot threads, unless one counts the fact that one of the characters in The Perfect Stranger is a “missing girl”!  If you haven’t read the first one you will have no problem with this one, it’s a  standalone, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing read that asks some interesting questions.  How well we can ever know another person?  How honest and accurate are our self-perceptions?  Just how far would you go for a friend who’d done a lot for you?

Megan Miranda does a terrific job in this book of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of menace and uncertainty.  She skillfully and slowly feeds the truth about Leah’s situation, hinting at what she’s running from and slowly fitting the pieces of the puzzle together – although it’s not until well into the story that we finally discover the nature of the terrifying events that set her on the path she’s now travelling.  And there’s also the fact that Leah is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, something the author plays with so cleverly that there are times the reader even questions the fact of Emmy’s existence, wondering if the police are right and she’s just a figment of Leah’s obviously active imagination.

On the negative side, however, there are times when there is perhaps just a little too much going on, there are a few plot-threads that are not suitably resolved, and a couple of large inconsistencies that really had me scratching my head – and not in a good way. The mystery is full of satisfying twists and turns, with a few suitably head-shaking moments of realization along the way, but the ending is somewhat of a let down.  Things end well for Leah and Kyle, but it’s all a little low-key, so while I was pleased that everything was nicely tied up, I’d expected something a little… well, MORE.

With all that said, however, I enjoyed The Perfect Stranger enough to recommend it to fans of adult angst filled  mysteries.  It caught my interest early and kept me listening to the end.

 

Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Review –

Last year I received this Post-It Note holder in a subscription box(I forget which one) but hadn’t read Caraval yet, so really didn’t appreciate it’s meaning until later.

 

The world of Caraval is one part amusement park, one part Venice, and one part game show, painted in all the colors of a gothic circus. Girls in gowns rustle their way down dark hallways, searching for clues that will win them a wish — but some girls have more need of wishes than others.

Scarlett has led a life made small by abuse. She and her sister Tella dwell in constant fear of their cruel and violent father. Tella beats against the bars of their golden cage, but Scarlett keeps the peace as best she can, desperate to protect them both. She has given up on her childhood dream of attending Caraval, a magical performance that blends theatre with an adventure game, resigning herself to an arranged marriage that will offer her — and Tella — a true escape from their father.

When an invitation arrives from Legend himself, the mastermind creator of Caraval, beckoning the sisters to a mysterious island and offering them a place in the game, Tella forces Scarlett to abandon her plans of calculated safety in favor of an adventure. But it soon becomes clear that Legend has other ideas. He steals Tella away and makes her the prize of Caraval, leaving Scarlett no choice but to win the game.

Scarlett knows that everything she experiences in Caraval is a part of the performance, but the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur, especially when it comes to Julian, a sailor boy who has joined the game. Like everyone she encounters in Caraval, he isn’t what he seems — and she can’t resist his help or his company. As the nights of the game progress, she sinks deeper and deeper into a story that grows ever darker, and gets further and further from the safe future that was almost within her grasp.

Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. For you see, Caraval is the world of the game, which feels like a journey into a dark branch of Disneyland, where the animatronics have feelings and don’t like you very much, and the expensive cupcakes may have poison in them.

Loved this book and am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series, Legendary, which comes out in May of this year, because what appears to be a happy ending isn’t at all what it seems.

 

Private Paris (Private #10) by James Patterson and Mark T. Sullivan

Book Description:

Published: April 21, 2016

Paris is burning–and only Private’s Jack Morgan can put out the fire.
When Jack Morgan stops by Private’s Paris office, he envisions a quick hello during an otherwise relaxing trip filled with fine food and sightseeing. But Jack is quickly pressed into duty after a call from his client Sherman Wilkerson, asking Jack to track down his young granddaughter who is on the run from a brutal drug dealer.

Before Jack can locate her, several members of France’s cultural elite are found dead–murdered in stunning, symbolic fashion. The only link between the crimes is a mysterious graffiti tag. As religious and ethnic tensions simmer in the City of Lights, only Jack and his Private team can connect the dots before the smoldering powder keg explodes.

Review –

 Another new foreign office, another series of local challenges to go along with an assortment of story lines.

 It is a fast paced thriller complete with tension, mayhem,murder and terrorism and will keep you turning pages or listening for many hours at a time.  I believe this is one of James Patterson’s better books in the series but if I had been reading instead of listening I would have stumbled over most of the French names of people, places and things. Thank heavens for the audio book.!

The next in the series is Private Rio which come out later this month.

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Dishing The Dirt (Agatha Raisin Mysteries #26) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description:

Published: September 15, 2015

A therapist had moved into the village of Carsely and Agatha Raisin hates her. Not only was this therapist, Jill Davent, romancing Agatha’s ex-husband, but she had dug up details of Agatha’s slum background.

Added to that, Jill was counselling a woman called Gwen Simple from Winter Parva and Agatha firmly believed Gwen to have assisted her son in some grisly murders, although has no proof she had done so.

A resentment is different from a dislike and needs to be shared, so as the friendship between James and Jill grows stronger, the more Agatha does to try to find out all she can about her. When Jill is found strangled to death in her office two days’ later, Agatha finds herself under suspicion – and must fight to clear her name.

Review –

I usually love an Agatha Raisin Mystery  but this one was disappointing.

The writing seemed rushed, there were too many deaths, SEVEN(even for a murder mystery) and while the killer did have a motive it just seemed a bit too easy. I do realize that the end leaves it wide open to be continued in the next installment, which I’m guessing will come out next year.

I did like that Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, gets her own plot development and it’s about time. Her husband takes her for granted and is a rude man.

Agatha is still looking for Mr. Right and I do wish the author would find one for her. It would serve James, her ex-husband, and Charles, and old friend and sometimes bed mate, right.

While I did enjoy the book it just didn’t live up to the standard of the others, but I will be sure to read the next one because that’s what avid readers do-READ.

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