Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Review –

“After losing her hearing in a freak hit-and-run accident that also killed a woman, Amelia has struggled with alcoholism and unemployment and is finally striving to get her life together. She finds peace on the water, kayaking or paddleboarding with her service dog, Stitch, another survivor and misfit, until the day she discovers a body left in a shallow channel. Shocked not only by her discovery, but also by the realization that she used to be friends with the victim, Gwen, Amelia also worries that the publicity surrounding her 911 call might lead the killer right to her doorstep. In the meantime, she takes a job doing clerical work for a doctor friend of her estranged husband, himself a doctor, and she begins to wonder if Gwen may have been silenced because of a secret she discovered about something or someone in the medical community. Someone clearly has his or her eye on Amelia and is working to discredit her with both boss and husband, so she must be close to finding out the truth. Gudenkauf has created a memorable character in Amelia. Self-deprecating and sometimes angry, her candid voice is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to traditional thriller heroines. In addition, she is self-reliant and strong. The plot contains some clever twists, and the final showdown crackles with tension. It’s hard not to root for Amelia and Stitch; flawed as they are, they’re tough, engaging fighters.

Come for the mystery; stay for the taut suspense, the unique heroine—and of course, the ugly, loyal dog.” Kirkus Review

Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss the author gives us a special look into the life of a very unique character.

Great read!

 

 

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: March 23, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Review –

Buckle up and hang on because reading this is like being on an out of control roller coaster .

A pathological liar, a woman in a coma, a childhood diary, an imaginary friend, an evil sister—this is an unreliable-narrator novel with all the options.

Amber narrates most of the book and she starts out in a coma on Boxing Day(it take place in England) and we won’t truly find out what put her there until the end of the book. She can’t remember the accident at all and it’s a story so complicated that even after the truth is exposed, it will take a while to get it straight in your head.

As Amber lies in bed recalling the events of the week that led to her accident, several other narrative threads kick up in parallel. In the present, she’s visited in her hospital room by her husband, a novelist whose affections she has come to doubt. Also her sister, with whom she shares a dark secret, and a nasty ex-boyfriend whom she ran into in the street the week before.

He works as a night porter at the hospital, giving him unfortunate access to her paralyzed but not insensate body. Interwoven with these sections are portions of a diary, recounting unhappy events that happened twenty-five years earlier from a ten-year-old child’s point of view. The author has loaded her debut effort with possibilities for twists and reveals—possibly more than strictly necessary—and they hit like a hailstorm in the last third of the book. Blackmail, forgery, secret video cameras, rape, poisoning, arson, and failing to put on a seat belt all play a role.

The ending will leave you shaking your head and re-reading the passage over and over again!!!!!

Great read!

 

Blackwood by Celia Aaron

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I dig. It’s what I do. I’ll literally use a shovel to answer a question. Some answers, though, have been buried too deep for too long. But I’ll find those, too. And I know where to dig—the Blackwood Estate on the edge of the Mississippi Delta. Garrett Blackwood is the only thing standing between me and the truth. A broken man—one with desires that dance in the darkest part of my soul—he’s either my savior or my enemy. I’ll dig until I find all his secrets. Then I’ll run so he never finds mine. The only problem? He likes it when I run.

Author’s Note: This is a standalone mystery/suspense romance with violence and explicit/intense sex. If you need a trigger warning, then this isn’t the book for you.

Review –

Elise Vale is working on her Ph.D in archaeology, focusing on Choctaw culture. She has the perfect site in mind for her next dig, Blackwood Estate, located in the Louisiana Delta Region. She hopes to find not only some Native American artifacts, but also to uncover a mystery. She has a hidden agenda and she’s willing to do anything to solve a mystery that’s been plaguing her.  Now, the only thing she has to do is to make sure the owner of the Estate allows her to survey the land.

Garrett Blackwood is the thirty-two years old reclusive owner of Blackwood Estate. A former history professor, Garrett has a nasty reputation. He doesn’t want anyone digging on his property and makes sure Elise knows that. But Elise doesn’t let Garrett deter her and she’s ready to do anything to find out THE TRUTH, even forging the documents she needs to get the funding.

As time passes, Elise realizes that digging for answers can be dangerous, but also that Garrett might be the biggest mystery on Blackwood Estate.

Mysterious, sexy and fascinating, Blackwood, was fantastically written in such an intriguing way. I couldn’t put it down for one minute, the mystery/suspense and also the multitude of twists and turns sucking me in from the start. The storytelling was really engaging, the story becoming more and more captivating with every single chapter. The author did a wonderful job blending the thriller/mystery aspect with the erotic. The story was hot and passionate with plenty of sexy times that I’m sure will leave you hot and bothered.

The two main characters were well portrayed, fascinating and I enjoyed reading about them. The chemistry between them was hot…to say the least from the beginning. I enjoyed how their relationship unfolded – gradually – their entertaining interactions and how sexy they were at times. The sex scenes between them were extremely hot, their connection being so palpable as the story unfolded.

Elise was a great heroine, smart, loyal and courageous, she was a strong character and I have to say that I loved her determination. Garrett was a very intriguing hero. While at first, he’s rude and grumpy, as the story unfolded and his relationship with Elise started to change, he became a total different man – kind, sweet, caring, but still gruff and so very manly. I liked these two together and how perfectly they completed each other. The romantic aspect was well done and the rough sex handled very well.

All in all, Blackwood, was a fantastic mystery/thriller I recommend if you are looking for a gripping read filled with steam, action and suspense.

 

The Second Opinion by Michael Palmer

Book Description:

Published: July 17, 2009

Format: Audio/Library Book

Dr. Thea Sperelakis, diagnosed as a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, has always been an outsider. She has a brilliant medical mind, and a remarkable recall of details, but her difficulty in dealing with hidden agendas and interpersonal conflicts have led her to leave the complex, money-driven dynamics of the hospital, and to embrace working with the poor, embattled  patients of Doctors Without Borders. Her father, Petros, is one of the most celebrated internal medicine specialists in the world, and the founder of the cutting-edge Sperelakis Center for Diagnostic Medicine at Boston’s sprawling, powerful Beaumont Clinic.

Thea’s rewarding life in Africa is turned upside-down when Petros is severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. He is in the Beaumont ICU, in a deep coma. No one thinks he will survive. Thea must return home. Two of Petros’ other children, both physicians, battle Thea and her eccentric brother, Dimitri, by demanding that treatment for their father be withheld.

As Thea uncovers the facts surroundingthe disaster, it seems more and more to be no accident. Petros, himself, is the only witness. Who would want him dead? The answers are trapped in his brain . . . until he looks at Thea and begins slowly to blink a terrifying message.

In The Second Opinion, Michael Palmer has created a cat-and-mouse game where one woman must confront a conspiracy of doctors to uncover an evil practice that touches every single person who ever has a medical test. With sympathetic characters and twists and betrayals that come from the most unlikely places, The Second Opinion will make you question…everything.

Review –

I love an intriguing medical mystery and this is a GOOD one. It’s all about medical fraud taking place in a big, fancy Boston hospital  and Dr. Petros Sperelakis  has found out and  was supposed to be killed by the hit and run driver but is now in a coma. When he comes out of the coma, his daughter, Dr. Thea Sperelakis, discovers that he has locked-in syndrome and is only able to communicate with his eyes. She finds out some interesting facts and gets into trouble but together with an hunky ex-cop turned security guard, who also becomes her love interest, solves the mystery and saves the day!

The Second Opinion is also interesting because It centers around a character with Asperger’s syndrome — a condition I knew next to nothing about. It is very interesting how the author uses his personal knowledge of the condition (one of his children has Asperger’s syndrome) to create a character you begin to understand on a different level than many others. It is not often a main character is different in this way, and it certainly adds an element of surprise to even ordinary conversations.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes  medical suspense thrillers and Tess Gerritson novels.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review –

I love love love Holly Black, with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown being one of my favorite books.

When Jude Duarte was seven, she watched Madoc, general to the high king of Elfhame, slaughter her parents. Madoc then dragged Jude and her two sisters off to Faerie, where he raised them as his own. Ten years later, Jude remains an outcast who is cruelly bullied by the other children of Faerie—the king’s youngest son, Prince Cardan, chief among them. Jude dreams of becoming a member of the High Court and the power that it confers, so when the opportunity arises for her to enter into the service of one of Cardan’s brothers, she seizes it, inadvertently placing herself at the center of a bloody coup and endangering the lives of everyone she loves. First in a trilogy, this spellbinding fantasy  reflects on the cost of ambition and explores the bomb-strewn border between love and hate. There are beautifully described landscapes, fully developed supporting characters, and a beguiling, tough-as-nails heroine, plus an intricate, intelligent plot that crescendos to a jaw-dropping third-act twist.  I can’t wait to read The Wicked King!

Five stars.

 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

Review –

“Reading anything by Karin Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a season ticket on a ride that never lets you off.” Kirkus Review

I couldn’t have said it better. I am a HUGE fan of Karin Slaughter and have read all of her books and I rate this one FIVE STARS!

Andrea Oliver’s always felt inferior to her parents. Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney; her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist. Andy herself has never aspired to any career goal higher than serving as an assistant to someone important. Even when she left Belle Isle, Georgia, for the Big Apple, she got nowhere, and she was only too eager to return home when her mother announced three years ago that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer.

As the two women mark Andy’s thirty first birthday by sharing lunch in a mall cafe, a crazed shooter opens fire on a mother-and-daughter pair who’ve stopped to greet Laura, and Andy’s life changes in an instant. Or rather two instants, the first when the shots ring out and the second when Laura, after inviting the killer to shoot her next, coolly and dispassionately kills him. It takes the dazed Andy hours to realize that her mother’s not at all who she seems to be, and by the time she’s ready to accept the fact that Laura Oliver is a woman with a past, that past is already racing to catch up with both mother and daughter. Cutting back and forth between Andy’s harrowing flight to nowhere after Laura pushes her out of her home and a back story thirty  years earlier involving the Army of the Changing World, a cell of amateur terrorists determined to strike a mortal blow against greedy capitalists and, it eventually turns out, each other as well, the author never abates her trademark intensity, and fans will feel that the story is pumping adrenalin directly into their bloodstreams. Long before the end, though, the impostures, secret identities, hidden motives, and double-crosses will have piled up past the point of no return, leaving the tale to run on adrenalin alone.

The plot was unlike anything I had read before but the chapters set in the present were more engaging than those set in the past and I found myself speed reading through the backstop just to get back to the present.

Loved it and can’t wait for her new book, The Last Widow, that comes out later this year.

Scandal in Fair Haven(Henrie O. #2) by Carolyn G. Hart

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 1994

Format: Audio/Audible

When Hart’s latest sleuth, 60-ish widow Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins, a.k.a. Henrie O, made her debut in Dead Man’s Island, readers everywhere were delighted. In this mystery, Henrie O returns in a classic, teasing puzzler.

Review –

“Just because Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins has retired from reporting the news doesn’t mean she’s retired from asking nosy questions; and when Craig Matthews stumbles into the Tennessee vacation cottage she was to share with his stricken aunt gasping that he didn’t kill his socialite wife, Patty Kay, she swiftly assumes the role of his aunt and takes up his cause. The deck is stacked against Craig — somebody went to a lot of trouble to lure him home to discover Patty Kay’s body — but Henrie O, alertly noticing that there are no footprints in the cheesecake (don’t ask), is sure that he’s innocent and turns instead to the town’s secrets, heralded by the incessant sniping of Fair Havenites. After pausing to note the obligatory adulteries — both Craig and Patty Kay were not only having active affairs but were worshiped from afar — Henrie O focuses on the links among Patty Kay’s death, the suicide of Walden School student Franci Hollis a day earlier, and the murder of a bookstore clerk who maybe remembered too much about the phone call that lured Craig back home. As before, serenely self-confident Henrie O proves a paragon of sturdy, old-fashioned detection. On the evidence here, Fair Haven must be the busiest, nastiest little hamlet in the galaxy.” Kirkus Review

 

Thought I’d start a new cozy mystery series, but while this one was okay, it didn’t pull me in enough to read the next one.

 

 

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Book Description:

Published: January 5, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

 When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother’s bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law’s for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother’s friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard’s life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

Review –

Another FIVE STAR read by an author I’m coming to love!

The book starts with a bachelor party that goes horribly wrong. Not only do most of the guests have sex with the two girls who were the “entertainment”, but then two men end up dead and girls are nowhere to be found. Because, see, these strippers aren’t strippers at all, but Armenian sex slaves—and the cue-ball-headed, no-neck bodyguards are their Russian overseers.

Earlier, one of them, a beautiful Armenian girl named Alexandra, almost managed to seduce Richard before he changes his mind. In the aftermath of the murders, Richard is turned out of his house, which has become a crime scene with reporters camped outside, and forced to hire a lawyer. As the consequences of the night pile up, Richard becomes estranged from his wife, is banned from his office, and finds himself the target of a blackmailer from the party who has an incriminating cell phone video of him and Alexandra. And then there is Alexandra herself, who returns to the scene of the crime, tailed by her seriously scary Russian bosses. 

The point of view alternates, with Richard; his wife, Kristin; their daughter, Melissa; and an enslaved girl dubbed Alexandra by her captors, all get a chance to tell the story. Richard has no idea what to do with himself. Kristin is freaked out—not so much because people were slaughtered in her house, but because her husband almost had sex with a girl half their age. Melissa is frightened and bewildered, which is perfectly OK because she’s nine. This, the book says, is how people who thought they had it made come unmade.

The author makes Alexandra the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. 

I gave the book five stars but I was disappointed that the author gives the reader/listener a forewarning of the ending and it took away, at least for me, the utter shock of the conclusion.

 

 

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Book Description:

Published: March 20, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Review –

OMG!    Five Stars!

This is the best “edge of your seat” book that I have read or listened to in ages.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great murder mystery that involves the past colliding with the present.

In The Broken Girls, Simone St. James delivers two gothic mysteries for the price of one. The narrative bobs and weaves through time with two sets of characters.

In the contemporary mystery, Fiona searches for definitive proof that Deb’s murderer is in prison. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes everything has not been tied up into a pretty bow. Plenty of dangerous darkness lingers in the present.

Back in 1950, we meet four vastly different girls—haunted Sonia, abandoned CeCe, athletic Roberta, and beautiful Katie—who become closer than sisters through their experiences at Idlewild and their shared brokenness. Mary Hand is a real presence in their lives, but not nearly as terrifying as the traumas they’ve already overcome.

They love one another fiercely. But one of them won’t leave Idlewild Hall alive.

With this dual narrative, the author produces an excellent  mirage, interweaving historical fiction, thriller, gothic horror, and mystery into an incredibly satisfying and cohesive whole. Every character springs vividly from the page. In a predominantly female cast, St. James shuns stereotypes and creates complicated, flawed women who support one another at any cost.

The societal commentary is frequent and biting: how some lives are prioritized over others; corruption in police forces; psychological trauma going untreated, seen more as a weakness and failing than a genuine problem to be fixed; how society has constantly devalued and oppressed women.

Sisterhood is the beating, undying heart of The Broken Girls; without it, crimes go unpunished and the victims remain nameless.

And, of course, we can not leave out the ghost. Mary Hand takes a backseat to the primary plots—she’s more of a signal post, a ghostly emblem of Idlewild and the horrors the girls have already experienced. Yet her moments are perfectly eerie and unsettling, adding a supernatural, psychological flavor to the already bloody tragedies.

By the last page, St. James has gathered up every thread into a solid knot. The Broken Girls is an intense, emotional lament on loss and pain. 

This is my first read by this author, but it will not be my last !!!!!

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut–for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Review –

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double that.”  Those four short sentences make up Chapter One and grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go.

Erin and Mark are on their honeymoon in Bora Bora, and while scuba diving they find Something in the Water.  THUNK, THUNK, THUNK. They have to decide what to do with what they found, turn it in or keep it for themselves. The temptation is strong, since Mark just lost his job. They think no one will be willing to claim it, so why bother trying to find the owners? When the bodies start piling up and they realize they are being followed, the stakes get higher. But once you’ve been sucked in, it’s hard to go back. When you are faced with the greatest temptation is when your true colors come out and you find out what or who is really important to you. It’s also when you discover that maybe that person you love more than anything has a side you’ve never really seen before. You’ll have to read the story to find out who survives in this book.

For a debut novel by an actress, Catherine Steadman played the part of Mabel Lane Fox on Downton Abbey, I thought this went fairly well. The characters had depth, and the writing was well done. I do think that the couple should have been  more middle-class instead of living in a million dollar home. It would have made all the craziness that they went through more realistic and I think the ending was a bit of a let down.

All in all, I enjoyed it very much.