Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

Book Description:

Published: January 26, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student and daughter of a powerful attorney, was brutally murdered there. Now the town is reeling with grief, and the police are baffled.

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the efforts to keep it quiet, hint at something far more sinister than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life and her secrets the more convinced she becomes that walking in Becca’s footsteps could lead her out of her own dark past.

Review –

Becca Eckersley’s brutal rape and murder brings journalist Kelsey Castle to Summit Lake. Recovering from her own trauma,(attempted rape and beating while jogging)Kelsey’s boss believes this story is the best way for her to come to grips with her past. She gets full cooperation from the police commander, which is more than she expects. But he’s been one-oped by the State Police and helps her behind the scenes. A young staff doctor provides surprising autopsy information and eventually a partner in finding out the real facts of the case. Flashbacks to Becca’s college life shed some light on what might have happened in the present and inside sources provide even more shocking information regarding Becca. A missing journal may hold the key, but  Kelsey gets roadblocks thrown her way that threaten her ability to discover the truth. But she persists and doesn’t know that retracing the steps of a dead girl with ultimately resolve her own demons and help her come into a new life.

This is a fast-paced page turner and it has teasing plot twists. The authored a fantastic job of giving just the right amount of information at just the right time. It’s refreshing to find a book that has such a well-developed plot and excellent writing to back it up.

Loved it, however I would have liked to seen a relationship develop between Kelsey and the young doctor.

Five stars!

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Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2011

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Review –

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This is a fantastic read/listen ( I had the audio version ) and although it is slow and repetitive in places it grabs your heart-strings and doesn’t let go.

It’s a book to be equally enjoyed by young adults as well as their parents because the issues are presented from both perspectives. The main characters are twins, Mia and Zack  and Jude, their adept but hovering mother and Lexi, a lonely teen living with her aunt.

Mothers will  relate to her parenting skills and worrying. Young adults and teens will relate to the push and pull of finding independence from one’s parents and the necessity of being accepted by peers. It’s layered with issues on family dynamics, teenage angst and romance, first loves, sibling rivalry, friendship, forgiveness, grief and motherhood making it an excellent read.

I felt so sorry for Lexi who just can’t catch a break and so angry at Zack for putting Lexi in a position that  endangered all three of them and ended Mia’s life.

The ending is a bit too much HALLMARK, but I’m glad everything worked out for everyone.

All in all a great book.

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Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2016

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Review –

This book takes up exactly where the first book left off (I love it when authors do that) and  even though it has been a year since I read the Red Queen, I had no trouble falling back into the story line.

There is so much action, heartache,heartbreak,angst and death in this installment of the series I don’t know where to start. BUT, I’ll try.

Mare has found her brother, Shade, a new blood, like herself, whom she thought was dead and he joins with her and others to find other new bloods to recruit to fight Maven before Maven can find them and kill them or worse be manipulated by the queen.

Mare spends the majority of the book being suspicious of everyone – she’s been betrayed far too many times already in her 17 years – and her suspicion carries over to the reader as well. I spent most of the book with absolutely no idea of who was trustworthy and to be honest, I still am not 100% sure, especially with the characters I want to trust most.

There was also a slew of new characters come into play in this book and some we get to  know while others  we’re merely told how they came to the group after the simple recruitment of the first Newblood, Nix. Suddenly we have around 10-12 new characters stirred into the mix, with no idea how they got there or why we should care about them. Character development for what could have been interesting side characters was instead merely highlighted 

There is sadness, loss, tragedy, and sacrifice and the ending is a definite cliffhanger, but I loved it and now have to wait until February 2017 for the third book, King’s Cage to be released. Can’t wait!!!

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The Wrong Man by John Katzenbach

Book Description:

Published: September 26,2006

Scott Freeman is a man of reason-a college professor grounded in the rational and practical. But he becomes uneasy after finding an anonymous love letter hidden in his daughter’s room: “No one could ever love you like I do. No one ever will. We will be together forever. One way or another.” But the reality of Ashley’s plight far exceeds Scott’s worst suspicions.
One drink too many had led Ashley, a beautiful, bright art student, into what she thought was just a fling with a blue-collar bad boy. But now, no amount of pleading or reasoning can discourage his phone calls, ardent e-mails, and constant, watchful gaze.
Michael O’Connell is but a malignant shadow of a man. His brash, handsome features conceal a black and empty soul. Control is his religion. Cunning and criminal skill are his stock-in-trade. Rage is his language.
The harder Ashley tries to break free, the deeper Michael burrows into every aspect of her life, so she turns in desperation to her divorced parents and her mother’s new partner-three people still locked in a coldly civilized triangle of resentment. But their fierce devotion to Ashley is the common bond that will draw them together to face down a predator.
For Ashley’s family, it is a test of primal love that will drive them to the extreme edge-and beyond-in a battle of wills that escalates into a life-or-death war to protect their own.

From the bestselling master of suspense, John Katzenbach, The “Wrong Man” is an elegantly crafted and breathtakingly intense read that asks the question, “How far would you go to save the child you love?”

Review:

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Just how far would you be willing to go to rid your only child of a crazed stalker? That is the question Ashley’s father, mother, her partner, Hope, and her partner’s mother, Katherine, ask themselves after they have tried several other  tactics to get rid of Michael O’Connell. They didn’t get a retraining order because Sally (Ashley’s mother, a lawyer) said it sometimes made things worse.

Ashley and Katherine are given minimal parts to play in the “let’s frame Michael for a crime and have him put in jail  for a very long time” scenario so that they can honestly say they didn’t know anything if the police should come around asking questions. 

Scott, Ashley’s father, Sally and Hope plan a crime of murder but something goes horribly wrong and the consequences are far-reaching. Even though they attain their goal, their lives are never the same.

The story starts out with a woman (we learn her identity near the end of the book) asks a writer if he wants to hear a story and then starts to relate the facts of the case. The the chapters go from current day to the time a few years ago when the “murder” occurred. 

This is a long book, over 450 pages if reading or over  16 hours if listening, but don’t let that deter you-you will be mesmerized by the story, characters and the cruelty of the stalker. It’s a love story about death which is a strange way to put it but it’s true.

Please put this on your “to be read” list. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

Five stars *****

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Torture To Her Soul (Monster In His Eyes #2) by J.M. Darhower

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2014

Don’t say it unless you mean it…

It’s a simple concept, one I’ve said time and again, but something people don’t seem to comprehend. You should choose every syllable carefully, because you never know when somebody will hold you to your word.

Somebody like me.

I’m not a good man. I’m not. I know. I have enough darkness inside of me to rid the world of every stitch of light. But there’s one I could never harm, one light I couldn’t bring myself to snuff out.

Karissa.

She thinks I’m a monster, and maybe I am. I taunt her with my touch, get a thrill out of torturing her soul. But I’m not the only one. The world is full of monsters, and I’m not the most dangerous one out there.

Not even close…

God help me, I love her.

I do.

And God help anyone who tries to take her from me.

Review –

I forgot to mention that in the previous book, Monster In His Eyes, Naz asks Karissa to marry him and she says yes, that is, of course, before she finds out how he has used her.

In Naz’s life it makes no sense for him to want her, even though he swore to wipe out the Rita family and Ray (a man who has been a father to him) demands her death, Naz can’t let her go. With that Karissa doesn’t make things easy for him. She’s angry, resentful of all the lies and secrets, and desperate to save her mother from Naz’s vengeance. But Karissa can’t deny that she wants to save Naz too. They love each other, it’s undeniable, but can that love ever be enough to overcome the darkness and hurt?. Naz has been full of rage and seeking revenge for so long, and his only solace from that ugliness comes from the least likely source, Karissa. So, he tries for her, and even though Naz knows Karissa would be better off without him, he’ll try his damndest to keep her.

 Karissa doesn’t give into Naz right away. She doesn’t hide her fury or bitterness. It’s an intense combination of rage and lust that eventually explodes in a wickedly HOT way:

“I’m going to f**k it all out of you, every bit of it.”
I pull out and thrust right back in, eliciting another cry.
“I’m going to f**k you until you beg me to stop.”
Another thrust. Another cry.
“And then I’m still not going to stop, not until you say the word to make me.”
I pull back to look at her as I thrust again, deeper than before. Her breath hitches.
“I’m not going to stop until you say it…until you mean it.”
She stares at me, stubbornly, defiantly…silently. It’s a battle of wills, one she’ll never win. I’ll f**k  her until my heart gives out.”

There is so my angst between Naz and Karissa in this book that at times I had to just put it down and walk away for a while. The writing is done so well that I could feel the sexual tension between them when she truly hated him(he kills her father and later her mother) and is in the same house but ignores him, not even speaking to him.

Finally she decided to leave him and he tell her that if she goes she CAN NOT EVER come back so to be sure leaving is wants she wants and she goes.

Very near the end Ray discovers that Naz has killed Brandy and he comes to kill him and but finds Karissa at home (she came back because she loved Naz and couldn’t stand being away from him) and he shots her and she almost dies.

After she recovers Naz proposes again with his mother’s ring and they get married in Vegas with strangers as their witnesses. Nah tells her he is out of the family and will need to find a job.   END.

I haven’t started the next book yet but I’m sure the family will be coming after them, because NO ONE LEAVES  THE FAMILY.

Five stars *****

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Asher’s Mark (Resolution Series #1) by Amy Durham

Book Description:

Published: August 24, 2014

Grace Ballard has been in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow, a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she’d imagined everything.

With no reason to wait for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher’s brother, Adam, stepped in to help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts… or her heart.

Now, two years later, tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace’s life. The boy who left her behind is now very much a man – a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents’ dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may create a divide that can’t be crossed.

Asher and his brother both left their mark on Grace’s heart. Will Asher’s be able to stand the test of time?

Review –

Such a wonderful story about young love, break-up,  tattoos,tragedy, guilt and true love.  It warmed my heart and the ending brought tears to my eyes.  I love it when a book does that.

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The Death Factory (Penn Cage #3.5) by Greg Iles

Book Description

March 18, 2014

Death is the end, and if a man doesn’t speak before it silences him, then his deepest secrets go with him.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes an e-original novella featuring former prosecutor Penn Cage, a story of family secrets and justice denied, plus an excerpt from his new novel, Natchez Burning.

When a heart attack sends Penn’s father, Tom Cage, to the ER, Tom begs that his son be brought to his side to hear a dying declaration. But when Penn arrives, Tom denies ever making the request—keeping his secrets for another day.

The emergency hurls Penn back to a chilling case in Houston, where he worked in a DA’s office known as the “death factory,” which sent more killers to death row than any other in America. While Penn cares for his ailing wife, a tormented forensic technician brings him evidence of a crime lab in chaos, throwing past convictions into doubt and begging Penn to prevent an imminent travesty of justice. With the desperation of a man fighting death in his own home, Penn must find a way to bring the machinery of the death factory to a halt.

Review –

I really didn’t care for this novella and I really can’t pinpoint why.  Maybe it was too short, or boring, or disappointed, or all three. Anyway, it was just okay to me.

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The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Book Description

January 8, 2013 
Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and Looking for Alaska, Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author, calls Elizabeth LaBan’s The Tragedy Paper “a beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak.”It follows the story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, VanessaSheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their secrets.

Review –
This was recommended to me by my Assistant Professor daughter who specializes in children’s and young adult literature as a “Wintery Themed Book” and I was hooked from the first few pages. It’s a poignant story told in two points of view, a current student, who happens to be an albino, and a former student that had the same room in a private school, the year before. The story includes forbidden romance, a tragic accident, friendships and relationships and I rated it five stars *****. Truly perfect to read on a cold wintery day with a cup of hot chocolate.
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Testimony by Anita Shreve

Product Description –

Publisher’s Weekly

The first paragraph foreshadows a tragedy in which three marriages are destroyed, the lives of three students at a private school in Vermont are ruined, and death claims an innocent victim. The precipitating event is a sex tape involving three members of the boys’ basketball team and a freshman girl. Beginning with an account of the debacle by the Avery School’s then headmaster, and segueing to the voices of the participants in the orgy, plus their parents and others touched by the scandal, the narrative explores the widening consequences of a single event. Shreve’s character delineation is astute, and the novel’s moral questions—ranging from the boys’ behavior to the headmaster’s breach of legal ethics to the guilt of those involved in the death—are salient if heavy-handed, while the female characters are wicked in the way women have always been stereotypically portrayed. The novel is clever, but the revolving cast of narrators often feels predictable and forced, keeping the novel on the near side of credible. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review-

This book dealt with a difficult subject and at times I found it very despressing but on the whole it was done well.  The narration was  performed by a cast of readers and that made it like an old time radio show or a televison show without pictures.  I really enjoyed  that  but I don’t know if I would listen to it a second time but time will tell.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Product Description
It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce. The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

Review-

Of the three books in this series by Susan Beth Pfeffer, I liked this one the best.  The characters from the first two books came together in this story of survival in the harshest of times.   And yes, Matt changed from a stout-hearted, do everything right and by the book fellow to one that would bring home a “wife” after meeting her on a fishing trip to a river(where catching fish could be the difference between life and death) and be all lovey-dovey, over the moon in love and get mad at anyone who questioned this but why shouldn’t he?  It wasn’t like there were any places to meet a future mate or the likelihood that there would be anytime soon.  So getting married and having someone to share things with made sense to him.  Miranda fell a little too easily in love with Alex for  the same reason and that’s okay. After all they had been through and will probably  go through in the future their changing made complete sense.   I was glad that we learned Miranda’s father, his new wife and new baby were safe and although uncertainty is their constant companion I get the feel that everything we work out for everyone.  I recommend this book but be sure to read the first two or you will be lost.