Reviews

Book Review: When We Were Worthy

When We Were Worthy,

by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; September 12, 2017

worthyAbout the book: 

A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurdles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

When We Were Worthy is the upcoming novel from author Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and it is a page-turner. In a tiny town named Worthy, it’s Friday night and time for high school football. After the win and when it’s time for the after-parties, three of the star cheerleaders – Brynne, Keary, and Mary Claire – are killed in a car accident. Another student, Graham, was driving the other car involved and is in the hospital. Surprisingly, the girls’ other best friend, Leah, was not with them.

Several other characters are involved but the novel is told from the points of view of the three cheerleaders in the accident, Mary Claire’s mother, Marglyn, Graham’s mother Darcy, Ava, a substitute teacher, and Leah, the friend left behind. 

As the town begins to mourn and try to move forward after this tragedy, secrets begin to reveal themselves involving guilt, lies, betrayals, and unimaginable crimes. 

Thoughts & Reactions

Warning to parents of teenagers – this novel is a nightmare! This town and the families went through complete hell with the loss of the three girls, Graham’s injuries and accusations regarding the accident, plus all of the other drama and anger being tossed around. The novel is tricky because it starts out intriguing, then slows a bit, then the drama and suspense increase until the end. I did find myself somewhat bored in the middle, but by the end, I realized the reasoning behind a lot of the details and everything tied together. 

Initially, I struggled with so many different points of view, but again, this ended up feeling right in the end despite all of the different stories going on at once. Marglyn, Mary Claire’s mother, was feeling guilty over missing her daughter’s game, in addition to, frequent mother-daughter spats they had been having – both due to Marglyn helping a young girl named Ginny. Darcy was not only concerned about her son Graham healing from the accident and the backlash of supposedly “causing the accident,” but was also still healing from her husband leaving her for another woman. Ava was a mysterious character and a substitute at the high school since moving back to Worthy so her husband Clay could run his parents’ restaurant. Then there was Leah that was basically just a walking secret and had an odd relationship with her mother and her friend/boyfriend Talmedge. 

If this novel sounds somewhat “busy” it is, but all of the varying subplots made this an incredible and suspenseful read. The author slowly revealed secrets and details making this a novel that I couldn’t wait to finish so that I could know what exactly happened and why. This is by no means a feel-good novel, but one of drama and suspense that eventually embodies justice and peace. If you are a fan of thrillers that slowly unravel secrets, then this should be the next novel on your TBR. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Pre-Order When We Were Worthy on Amazon.

Learn more about Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

 

Reviews

Book Review: Bring Her Home

Bring Her Home, by David Bell

Publication:  Berkley; July 11, 2017

bring her homeAbout the book: 

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Two fifteen-year-old girls, Summer Price and her best friend Haley go missing. After a few days, two girls are found in a park. Haley is dead, but Summer survived just barely. Bill and Summer have had problems the past year and a half since Bill’s wife and Summer’s mother, Julia died suddenly in their home. 

As the investigation surrounding their disappearance, Summer’s almost deadly beating, and Haley’s death, new things come to light every day. Bill is questioned about how well he really knew his daughter. People are questioned and things continue coming to light as the investigation continues, headed up by Detective Hawkins. 

Bill’s sister, Paige, comes to be with Bill during the investigation and he also has the support of his neighbor and friend, Adam. Bill is sure that someone knows something and points his finger at several of boys from Haley and Summer’s school, but things just continue to get complicated as the investigation continues.

Thoughts and Reactions

Let me start with this… Bring Her Home is hands-down the best novel I have read this year. I love suspense thrillers but good Lord, this one delivered one surprise and one twist right after the other. I sat down to read this about 3 1/2 hours ago and have barely moved since. 

Author David Bell has an uncanny ability to make the reader doubt themselves repeatedly, in a good way, of course. Each time I had it all figured out in my head, I was blindsided by a new revelation completely blowing my theory out of the water. Then, every time I would decide someone else had nothing to do with it, their names would pop up again with more incriminating circumstances. 

This novel is challenging to review without giving spoilers, so I can’t say much more about the plot than I already have, but let me stress that this is a complete, unexpected roller coaster ride from beginning to end. And if you are a parent of a teenager, prepare to cringe at times at the thought of these things happening to your child or the thought of your child being involved in the circumstances in any way. When you’re done reading this, I promise you will want to go sit down with your kids and ask them a million questions about their lives, lol! 

As stated before, this is my favorite book of the year. If you are a fan of mystery/suspense/thrillers, this is not a book to miss. Kudos to David Bell for such an amazing novel!

*Many thanks to David Bell, Berkley, & NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Bring Her Home on Amazon!

Learn more about David Bell by visiting his web page.

Reviews

Book Review: Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls: A Young Adult Romantic Thriller, by Sienna Blake

Publication: Gypsy Publishing; 1 edition; April 24, 2016

paper dollsAbout the book: 

Salem is my twin sister. She loved me. She protected me. She forgave me, even after I failed her. I just got her back after searching for three long, lonely years.

Then there’s Clay. Sweet yet intense and nursing a dark past of his own, he’s all the redemption I don’t deserve. He wants to open me up and know the insides of my soul. I want to let him, but I’m scared he’ll run from what he finds.

But I can’t have them both.

My name is Aria. I’m 18. And today, I must choose. One of the two people I love has to die.

 

My Review:

Who, What, When, Where

This incredibly interesting and surprising novel is about 18-year-old Aria who is living and working in Mirage Falls. She works at a lingerie/toy shop for a woman named Flick, and as the novel begins, she is falling for a guy named Clay. The problem is, however, she is searching for her twin sister, Salem, that she hasn’t seen in three years. 

Aria and Salem obviously have secrets from their past and reasons they ran away, but Aria does not reveal this to Clay until a while into the novel. Clay also seems to have secrets, but again, these are slowly revealed throughout the novel, which left me insanely curious about what was going on, who was being honest, and so on. 

If it seems that I’m not saying much about the plot, that is correct. So many things happen in this novel that I would absolutely hate to give any spoilers. But I will say that Aria’s life seems basically happy and normal while she’s looking for Salem, however, things drastically change once they find each other again.

Thoughts and Reactions

I have to start by saying, “Wow!” There’s little I love more than surprise twists in novels and Paper Dolls definitely surprised me. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading but there was a huge “oh my God” moment that I never saw coming. I knew something was going on and suspected that it would be bad, but I truly had no idea what was coming.

Paper Dolls is well-written with very realistic and honest inner and outer dialogue. I struggled a bit with the character development, realizing several times that I could hardly picture the characters in my mind, unsure of what they even looked like. Beyond that, the plot was very suspenseful and absolutely entertaining. 

Sienna Blake addressed some difficult and serious topics in Paper Dolls but did it in a wonderful way. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of psychological thrillers. It has elements of romance and family but also has very challenging moments – all combining to make an amazing read!

*Trigger warning* This novel does deal with themes of sexual abuse and mental illness.

*Thanks to BookFunnel for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Paper Dolls on Amazon!

Learn more about Sienna Blake by visiting her web page.

 

Reviews

Book Review: The Address

THE ADDRESS: A NOVEL, BY FIONA DAVIS

PUBLICATION: DUTTON; AUGUST 1, 2017

addressAbout the book: 

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a mad woman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

 

My Review:

I’m very excited today to bring you my review of Fiona Davis’ upcoming novel, The Address. This novel is set in the 1880’s with Sara and the 1980’s with Bailey, both of which have a connection to the famed Dakota Apartment Building, just in different time periods.  

Who, What, When, and Where:

In 1884, Sara was working as the executive housekeeper in a beautiful London hotel when she meets the Camden family.  Theodore Camden was one of the architects for the new Dakota in New York City and after Sara is such a help to his wife and children, he persuades her to come to New York to live and work at the Dakota. However, upon her arrival, she learns she will be operations manager (managerette, as they say in the novel), and finds herself struggling at first, but slowly learning the ropes. 

Fast forward to 1985 and to Bailey Camden. Bailey’s cousin Melinda is one of two heirs to the Camden fortune and is in need of someone to handle renovations and remodeling of the Dakota. Bailey has just left rehab and lost her job as an interior designer, so she accepts Melinda’s offer to live at the Dakota and oversee the changes to the interior. Bailey disagrees with her cousin’s vision but she needs a job and a roof over her head. 

It is known that an employee of the Dakota, Sara Smythe, killed Theodore Camden in his apartment in 1885, but it’s not until Bailey starts clearing out a storage area that she starts seeing several connections between Theodore and Sarah, other than the fact that she murdered him. 

Thoughts and Reaction:

Let me begin by saying that this was a brilliant, amazing novel. I don’t always love historical fiction, but The Address was wonderful. It started out slow for me and I honestly struggled with whether to continue on, which is proof that I should always finish what I’m reading. I was very quickly interested in Sara’s story, but Bailey really had to grow on me. Her partying days of booze and cocaine were gone, she had no job, no money, and quite honestly, irritated me with her woe is me attitude and jealousy of Melinda. However, as the novel progressed, I disliked her less and less because of her patience, intellect, and ease with most people. I never learned to like her, but that’s o.k.

Sara quickly earned my respect and I found her a fascinating character for the time period. Her professional success was one thing, but taking off to the United States all alone for a new job and new life was impressive for 1884. Although a stern manager, she also had a quiet kindness about her and would not hesitate to help anyone in need. Alas, in all great dramas, once Sara is living and working at the Dakota, she made some decisions that would change her life forever. Of course, I can’t go into those decisions without giving spoilers, but Sara faced several new challenges which were far worse than simply moving from London on her own. 

Although historical fiction, The Address is a creative blend of fact and fiction. The Dakota is a real building imagined and built in the 1880’s by Henry Hardenbergh and Edward Clark. There is also mention of a journalist named Nellie that goes undercover in the asylum on Blackwell’s Island, now Roosevelt Island. Davis also accessed and utilized names of actual tenants at the time the Dakota opened. There are more facts blended into fiction, but of course, Theodore and Sara’s fantastic story is all fiction.

Again, this started slowly for me, but it was well worth pressing onward because it resulted in me devouring this novel. After reading, it also led me to a few hours of internet searches regarding the Dakota and its endless list of famous residents, Blackwell’s Island, the architects of the project, and so on. I’m kind of nerdy that way, but it happens. Don’t be afraid of the one hundred year time difference between Sara and Bailey because it flows together seamlessly. The imagery, characterization, and realism make for a gem of a novel. I highly recommend this to any fiction lover, but especially fans of historical fiction and fiction with a surprising twist.

*Special thanks to First to Read for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Pre-Order The Address on Amazon!

Learn more about Fiona Davis by visiting her web site.

Reviews

OUR LITTLE SECRET, BY DARREN O’SULLIVAN

PUBLICATION:  HQ DIGITAL; JULY 28, 2017

our little secret

 

About the book: 

A DESERTED TRAIN STATION: A MAN WAITS. A WOMAN WATCHES.

Chris is ready to join his wife. He’s planned this moment for nearly a year. The date. The time. The train. But he hadn’t factored in Sarah.

So when Sarah walks on to the platform and sees a man swaying at the edge she assumes he’s just had too much to drink. What she doesn’t expect is to stop a suicide.

As Sarah becomes obsessed with discovering the secrets that Chris is clearly hiding, he becomes obsessed with stopping her, protecting her.

But there are some secrets that are meant to stay buried…

My Review:

Over the past year, I have really come to love suspense/thrillers. It’s truly become my favorite genre of novels, which is hard to admit since I have always been a women’s fiction kind of girl. Anyway, I’m not sure where to begin with this wonderfully insane roller-coaster ride of a novel, Our Little Secret. This upcoming novel by author Darren O’Sullivan is crazy, tense, creepy, sad – but absolutely outstanding!

Let me begin by saying I think that this will be a fairly brief review for fear of giving spoilers. Chris wants to kill himself so that he can be with his wife. He has carefully researched and planned how, where, and when he will end his life. The problem? the night he is bringing his plan to fruition, Sarah just happens to stroll up to the station after leaving her ex-boyfriend’s house. Chris’ plans are ruined and he heads home, but Sarah is unable to forget him and that night, so persistently she tracks him down and basically forces herself into his life. 

One of the first things that came to mind after reading this novel is a note to self: tell my daughter that if she ever disrupts a suicide, please don’t go looking for the dude, this is just not a good idea. Chris is sad, lonely, and broken after losing his wife. He wants to kill himself. He also wants to kill himself in a way that others won’t have to see or witness it. So when Sarah appears, he chickens out. It doesn’t take long to realize that things are a little freaky, but they get even weirder after Sarah starts trying to find Chris. 

This novel is told from varying points of view, including the diary of Chris’ wife, Julia. I loved the different voices in the novel, feeling as if it just added that much more suspense. Similar to another novel I read this weekend, I have to admit that this one was a little slow to start for me. However, it quickly jumped from “just so-so” to “oh my God, what the hell is going on??”

Darren O’Sullivan’s vivid imagery really brought this one to life for me. At times, a bit too much, but I truly felt as if I were a part of the story. Not only do we meet a man on the edge of suicide and paralyzed with grief, we get to see a variety of complex characters that are all fighting their own battles. I loved and hated Sarah at the same time. She was caring and sweet and thoughtful, but at the same time, I kept thinking about how closely she resembled women I have seen in horror movies or on Forensic Files. You know what I’m talking about when you’re reading or watching something and you want to scream, “for the love of God, don’t do that!”

Our Little Secret is a creepy, edge-of-your-seat thriller and if you are a fan of such novels, this is one you shouldn’t miss. I cannot wait to read more from this amazingly talented author in the future. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pre-Order Our Little Secret on Amazon!

 

Reviews

Book Review: Here and Gone

HERE AND GONE: A NOVEL, BY HAYLEN BECK

PUBLICATION:  CROWN; JUNE 20, 2017

here and goneAbout the book: 

It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone then she must have done something with them…

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My Review:

For fans of suspense thrillers, this is your next read! Here and Gone by Haylen Beck is an absolute nail-biter! Audra is traveling across the country with her two children Sean and Louise. She is trying to get to a friend’s home in California to prevent her abusive ex-husband from getting the children when she is pulled over by a Sheriff in a tiny Arizona town. Here’s where all hell breaks loose and every parents’ worse nightmare occurs. Audra is placed under arrest and placed into the back of the Sherriff’s car. She watches as another Deputy loads her kids into their car and is told that the Deputy will get the children safely to the station and make any arrangements needed for their care. However, once Audra is in her jail cell and asks the Sheriff about her children, his reply to her is, “what children?” 

I loved this novel from start to finish but can I say stressful!! Audra is in jail in this tiny, backward town, her children are missing, and she is being blamed. Luckily, a man named Danny hears about the story on the news and finds it frighteningly familiar to a situation with his own wife and daughter, prompting him to head to Arizona in the hopes of helping Audra and possibly finding whoever took his daughter.

One of the key points in all of this frustrating mess is Audra’s past as an alcoholic and drug user. Despite how long she has been clean, the media quickly starts painting a picture of a horrible, neglectful parent. No one believes her version of the story that the kids were with her when she was pulled over, and no one is questioning the Sherriff’s word. This novel made me want to scream and pull my hair out so many times because of the narrow-minded media and law enforcement involved in the story, but it was worth it. This novel was fast-paced, suspenseful, terrifying, frustrating – but incredible.

The character development in this novel is amazing in that there are numerous important characters but the author took his time with each and every one of them. I felt like I knew them all like the back of my hand. Not wanting to give spoilers regarding “whodunnit” I can’t go into this too deeply, but the transformation of some of the characters throughout the story is remarkable. The weak and helpless become empowered where the “bad guys” seemingly unravel before your eyes. 

Here and Gone is an edge-of-your-seat novel that I highly suggest reading with a glass of wine nearby to keep yourself calm. Anyone that is a parent will likely find this book just as traumatic, leaving you to wonder, could something like this really happen? I finished this one yesterday afternoon but still keep catching myself thinking about what happened to this family. I cannot praise Here and Gone and author Haylen Beck enough!

*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase Here and Gone on Amazon!

Learn more about Haylen Beck by visiting his web page.

Reviews

Book Review: The Marriage Pact

THE MARRIAGE PACT: A NOVEL, BY MICHELLE RICHMOND

PUBLICATION:  BANTAM: JULY 25, 2017

marriageAbout the book: 

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.
   
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.

And then one of them breaks the rules.

The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

My Review:

Looking for something creepy and different? The Marriage Pact, the upcoming suspense/thriller from author Michelle Richmond needs to go to the top of your TBR.

Sweet, happy couple Alice and Jake are getting married. Alice is an attorney that used to be a somewhat popular musician. Jake is a child/adolescent therapist breaking out into Marriage/Couples Counseling at his practice. After Alice helps out a famous folk singer with a lawsuit, she invites Finnegan and his wife to their wedding, but prior to the wedding, Finnegan sends them an unusual gift in the mail. Soon after the wedding, they learn that Finnegan has invited them into an exclusive club for married couples, called The Pact.  Seemingly a positive thing, Alice and Jake sign on, however, they quickly learn that The Pact is much more than they realized. 

I will start by saying that although this whole idea creeped me out from the first page, The Pact seemed harmless when first presented to Alice and Jake. Described as a family that helps each other in maintaining happy and permanent marriages, there were rules regarding buying your spouse a gift monthly, take quarterly trips out of town, and always answering the phone when your spouse calls. However, this weird group of people had many more rules. Given a manual after joining The Pact, Alice and Jake were repeatedly instructed to read it in its entirety and to memorize the rules, laws, and punishments. Of course, neither of them read the entire manual, therefore, they are blown away once they start being accused of various infractions requiring punishment and/or reeducation. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but as the novel progresses, things become increasingly worse and they consistently lose any control over their own lives. 

After carefully reading this novel over the past two days, I’ve thought a lot about The Pact and am able to see the possibilities of people being swept up into the idea. Both Jake and Alice wanted their marriage to be forever, they wanted to be happy, and in love. So when The Pact is presented, they considered it a gift and a sign of how to ensure a happy marriage. As Jake begins taking on clients for marriage counseling, he spends a great deal of time researching marriage as a whole, as well as, various facts and statistics regarding studies involving the success and failure of marriages. Slowly, both he and Alice start to realize that there is no magic formula, group, club, etc. that will ensure a happy marriage, but that it requires love, commitment, and working at it every day. 

Told entirely from Jake’s point of view, I feel that I connected with and got to know his character much more than Alice. Descriptions from the author provided some insight into Alice’s feelings, but flip-flopped the entire novel between thinking the enjoyed The Pact and that she wanted out. There were several instances where she justified her punishments by saying they had made her a better wife, and I honestly wanted to reach out and shake her. Even when I thought she was starting to think sensibly, she would surprise me again, and at times I found her rather morally ambiguous. 

The Marriage Pact starts out very fast-paced and truly has you squirming in your seat until the last page. Michelle Richmond created a suspenseful, scary, stressful, yet at times, very happy and love-filled novel that touched on just about every emotion that I have. Although there were several moments where if it would have been a movie, I would have looked away, I still devoured every single word of this fantastic novel. This is a must-read for any lovers of suspense/psychological thrillers!

*Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order The Marriage Pact on Amazon!

Learn more about Michelle Richmond by visiting her web page. 

Reviews

Book Review​: Hard Proof

HARD PROOF (NOTUS MOTORCYCLE CLUB BOOK 1),

BY DEBRA KAYN

PUBLICATION: MAY 29, 2017

hard proofAbout the book: A sexy, gripping romantic suspense…

Identical twin sisters move to St. John’s, Oregon, buy Vavoom’s Bar, and purposely put themselves into the path of Notus Motorcycle Club.

Burdened by a deep, dark secret, Clara has to be careful because one wrong step, one wrong word, could land her and Gracie in prison. Her need to stay close to the motorcycle club members backfire when Wayne Shaw throws her heart into a tailspin. There is more to the possessive biker than she originally thought. Cornered and out of options, she can only go forward and hope Wayne protects her.

Wayne Shaw splits his time between working at Port Loaders, searching for missing persons in partnership with the local police department, and keeping Notus Motorcycle Club together in hopes a brother will come home. Skilled at finding clues normal people miss, he has no trouble telling the new owners of Vavoom’s apart. He only wants Clara.

When a little girl goes missing, followed by a teenager disappearing, Wayne’s need to keep Clara safe while searching for a serial killer gets tested…until he’s no longer sure who is the hunted and who is the hunter.

My Review:

Today, I have discovered that I have a new passion. That passion is motorcycle club novels! I have read one or two and loved them, but after reading Hard Proof: Notus Motorcycle Club Book 1 today, I can proudly say that I am a huge fan of MC books!

Twin sisters Clara and Gracie move back to St. John’s and take ownership of a local bar, Vavoom. Why? They are hoping to befriend and hire members of the Notus Motorcycle Club to find someone that caused great harm to their family. Wayne and his friends in Notus work normal jobs like everyone else, but when someone goes missing, they volunteer their time to work with local police and local search and rescue teams to safely bring people home. Clara unexpectedly finds herself falling hard for Wayne, as people are suddenly going missing and Wayne only wants to protect Clara. 

This is one of those rare novels that, with the exception of “the bad guy,” I truly liked every character. Clara was very likable, down to earth and relatable, but her twin, Gracie was more reserved and hard to read. It took me about one second to fall head over heels for Wayne and except for one instance in the novel, my love just grew for him as I read. I wish the main characters had been a bit more developed, but I loved them regardless!

I have to admit that in the beginning of the book I wasn’t sure about the whole “vigilante biker club” thing but as the story progressed, their motivation became clear and their commitment to helping people was very evident. This novel was fast paced with several twists and turns and at times was downright creepy, but I loved it and couldn’t put it down once I started. Hard Proof has suspense, mystery, romance, and psychological elements all adding up to a fantastic read. I cannot wait for the next installment of this series to be released!!

*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Hard Proof on Amazon!

Learn more about Debra Kayn by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Book review: The Good Widow

THE GOOD WIDOW, BY LIZ FENTON & LISA STEINKE

PUBLICATION: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING; JUNE 1, 2017

good widowAbout the book: 

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs, it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

My Review:

Holy crap I truly have no idea how to contain myself enough to write a review for The Good Widow! An amazing suspense thriller, The Good Widow introduces teacher and wife, Jacks (Jacqueline) as she is notified of an accident that has claimed the life of her husband James. The first problem, that accident was in Hawaii rather than in Kansas where James had told her he was going on business. The next problem comes when she is informed that her husband was not alone in the rented Jeep when he had his accident. Another big problem is when a man named Nick appears at Jacks door introducing himself as Dylan’s fiance – the same Dylan that died in the accident with James. 

I’m trying to imagine anything worse than two police officers appearing at my door informing me that my husband is dead. However, to learn that he was also having an affair and his mistress died along with him, that would basically rock any person to their core. Granted, James and Jacks’ marriage wasn’t perfect, but no one wants to learn all of these horrible secrets about their spouse while mourning their death. Nick tracks Jacks down and shares his own heartache and confusion about his fiance being with James in Hawaii in the first place, much less dying in an accident. Jacks initially sends him away but eventually agrees to accompany James to Hawaii to find out about the lovers’ vacation and try to determine how serious their affair had been. 

A prominent character in The Good Widow is Jacks’ sister Beth. Honestly, I wasn’t really a big fan of hers. Not having a sister it may just be that I don’t understand the whole “sisterly bond” thing, but I felt like she was way overbearing. Beth had not liked James when he was alive and her distrust and dislike seemed to carry over to Nick once she learned about him and what he and Jacks planned to do. I think she meant well in everything she said and did, but something about her just bothered me. 

Speaking of characters, the authors’ characterization in this novel was fabulous. Jacks, Nick, Beth, James, and Dylan were all so well developed that I could easily see their faces or hear their voices while reading about them. My impression regarding all of the characters changed several times well reading, just proving how intricately the authors’ peeled back layer after layer until each character was honestly exposed – some in good ways, some not so good.

Considering the blurb lays it all out there regarding James and Dylan having an affair and then dying in an accident together, I was pleasantly shocked at the surprises as the plot developed. Obviously, there will be twists here and there but rarely was there more than a page or two to go by without something new coming out about someone or some incident. I cannot express the depths of my love for suspense/thriller/mystery novels that truly shock me, and The Good Widow is one of the best I have ever read. I was completely floored as the conclusion to this novel neared, never expecting the events and information that were revealed. 

For lovers of this genre, The Good Widow is an absolute must read that you will not be able to put down. I cannot recommend this enough and commend the co-authors for creating such a fabulous, suspenseful novel. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase The Good Widow on Amazon!

Learn more about Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke by visiting their web page.

 

Reviews

Book Review: Long Black Veil

Long Black Veil, by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Publication: Crown; April 11, 2017

long black veilAbout the book: 

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it’s not long before they realize they are locked in—and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors’ lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them—celebrity chef Jon Casey— with murder. Only Casey’s old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.

But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own – secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?

Weaving deftly between 1980 and the present day, and told in an unforgettable voice, Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. Readers will hail this as Boylan’s triumphant return to fiction.

My Review:

Long Black Veil was not on my reading list for last week, however, once it arrived in the mail and sat on my desk a day or two, I couldn’t resist digging into it. After reading it, I am honestly still contemplating my overall thoughts. This novel starts out extremely suspenseful, with that feeling in the air that things are going to go bad, which they do. An unlikely group of friends is standing in front of an abandoned prison and decide, “what the hell, let’s go in.” This reminded me of the whole, “Hey man, hold my beer and watch this” type of thinking, but  – that’s how all great mysteries and horror books/movies come about. The events at the prison are much shorter than I expected, although extremely spooky. The bulk of the novel focuses on the aftermath of the group, what direction their lives went, and how that night continued to affect them. 

This was my first time reading Jennifer Finney Boylan and she is an incredible author. The imagery, language, and feeling involved in her writing is amazing. However, my overall impression of this novel is up in the air. On one hand, I feel like it was an amazing story idea, but on the other hand, I felt like too much focus was on Judith. She allowed us glimpses into the lives of the rest of the group as the years had passed, but those glimpses just left me with more questions. I would have loved to have dug deeper into the lives of Casey, Tripper, Rachel, Maisie, Ben and even Karl. It almost felt like a tease because of the initial character development that was never truly fulfilled as the novel went on.

As beautiful as the author’s writing is, I was also confused several times while reading this novel. Not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last, but I struggled to determine who the narrator was in each chapter and where they were in their lives. I honestly thought at one point that two of the characters had switched identities and also kept second-guessing myself wondering if Judith was even alive and breathing. There was a strong similarity between one of the characters and the name on a driver’s license that also had me flipping back and forth between chapters to make sure that there wasn’t a reincarnation twist that I had missed.

My hopes are that this review doesn’t come across as negative because I was completely absorbed in the novel. I feel that if not for the issues I ran across, I could have labeled this as one of my favorite reads ever. This is an intellectual read that requires thought and consideration. This novel also touches on a variety of important social issues that are absolutely in need of being addressed in today’s fiction novels. Despite the confusion, I am completely happy with the opportunity to have read Long Black Veil and look forward to reading more from this extremely talented author in the future.

*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Long Black Veil on Amazon!

Learn more about Jennifer Finney Boylan by visiting her web page.