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: Beautiful Animals

Beautiful Animals: A Novel,

by Lawrence Osborne

Publication: Hogarth; July 18, 2017

beautanimalsAbout the book: 

On a hike during a white-hot summer break on the Greek island of Hydra, Naomi and Samantha make a startling discovery: a man named Faoud, sleeping heavily, exposed to the elements, but still alive. Naomi, the daughter of a wealthy British art collector who has owned a villa in the exclusive hills for decades, convinces Sam, a younger American girl on vacation with her family, to help this stranger. As the two women learn more about the man, a migrant from Syria and a casualty of the crisis raging across the Aegean Sea, their own burgeoning friendship intensifies. But when their seemingly simple plan to help Faoud unravels all must face the horrific consequences they have set in motion.

In this brilliant psychological study of manipulation and greed, Lawrence Osborne explores the dark heart of friendship and shows just how often the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Beautiful Animals is a novel about a young woman named Naomi while vacationing with her father and stepmother at their summer home in Greece. Naomi is in her twenties, finished law school, but has already had an unsuccessful career. Naomi has a strained, yet somewhat affectionate relationship with her wealthy, art collector father and has a very cold and distant relationship with her stepmother. 

Samantha (Sam) is also a young woman vacationing on the Greek island of Hydra, a few years younger than Naomi and with a more close-knit family. Although also from a very wealthy family, Sam is much more naive and innocent than Naomi, thus beginning an interesting friendship. 

During a day excursion on Naomi’s family’s yacht, Naomi and Sam discover a man on the far end of the island, sleeping, and obviously injured. After some time they realize he is there illegally from Syria, but without him providing much detail regarding his circumstances. They decide they want to help him and the young women continue bringing him supplies, helping him with private places to stay, and eventually provide him with means to a great deal of wealth without truly considering the consequences. 

Thoughts & Reactions

Occasionally I will look at reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. prior to writing my review, simply because I wonder if a particular reaction is just me, or if others have felt the same. Beautiful Animals is one that I did look at other reviews prior to writing this, but it appears as if the things I enjoyed, most others didn’t, and vice versa. 

Let me start with the actual writing. Lawrence Osborne has crafted a beautiful novel. This is one of those novels that while reading, you feel as if you are floating on some perfect cloud of perfect imagery, description, and dialogue. This is masterful writing that requires thinking and feeling on your part as a reader. Moreover, I cannot imagine how anyone could read this book without developing overwhelming wanderlust. The descriptions of the landscape, food, alcohol, people, etc. have solidified my desire and need to visit Greece (and Italy).

Similar to an issue I had recently with another novel, there was not one character in this novel that I liked, or even respected for that matter. Naomi has lived an overly privileged life, with the exception of the death of her mother when Naomi was a teenager. Living in London with family homes in Italy and Greece, Naomi has been sheltered and spoiled beyond belief, although she was also extremely intelligent and independent. Her father Jimmie and her stepmother Phaine were basically narcissistic, alcoholic social climbers with even fewer redeeming qualities than Naomi. 

Sam and her family were wealthy New Yorkers, but much less pretentious than Naomi’s family. There were several references to Sam playing Scrabble with her father or going to the beach with her mother – things that would never have occurred with Naomi’s family. Remaining characters included the angry and diabolical maid Carissa, Faoed the illegal young man from Syria, and Jimmie’s friend and odd, secretive business partner Rockhold. All of them had equally unpleasant characteristics. 

Regarding the overall plot of the novel, I found it unique, engaging, and interesting. This wasn’t the best novel for me to take along on a weekend camping trip, but I did find myself captivated and unable to put it down. This wasn’t just a “rich girl helping a refugee story,”  but something much more complex about people in general. Why are people willing to risk so much for a stranger? Why do some people feel compelled to put their own family at risk for a cause? What has happened in a person’s life to make them completely numb to consequences of one’s behavior?

As always, I don’t want to give spoilers, but this novel is a shining example of a wealthy, spoiled woman that feels so entitled she is unable to look beyond herself. Naomi frequently plays the “I had a bad parent card” throughout the novel as a justification to herself and others, but it did nothing to inspire me to be more tolerant of her. 

Recommendations

Readers that enjoy higher-level writing that is thought-provoking (both good and bad), should enjoy and respect this novel. I loved the writing, as well as, the overall plot idea. However, if you need to make a connection with a particular character in order to enjoy a novel, Beautiful Animals is not the book for you. 

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

Purchase Beautiful Animals on Amazon!

Learn more about Lawrence Osborne 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: Emma In The Night

EMMA IN THE NIGHT,

BY WENDY WALKER

PUBLICATION: ST. MARTIN’S PRESS; AUGUST 8, 2017

emma

 

About the book: 

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

My Review:

Holy disfunction! Fasten your seat belts for this one folks! Wendy Walker’s upcoming novel, Emma In The Night, is an absolute page-turner psychological thriller that you will not soon forget. 

Who, What, When, Where:

One night, two sisters Emma and Cass disappeared into the night. Emma was 17-years-old at the time and Cass was 15-years old. Three years later, Cass shows up back at her mother and stepfather’s home without Emma. 

Their parents had divorced several years earlier leaving their Dad, Owen Tanner, depressed about the break-up and about his wife Judy’s affair. Judy re-married Joe Martin, considering him more important and masculine than Owen.

Other prominent figures are Will, half-brother to the girls from Owen’s previous marriage and Hunter, their spoiled step-brother. 

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter has spent years trying to figure out the missing piece to the girls’ disappearance and is also somewhat of an expert on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  When her old colleague Leo contacts her to let her know Cass has returned, the two FBI agents set out to figure out what happened and why.

Thoughts and Reactions:

After returning without Emma, Cass begins to share bits and pieces of her story slowly, almost like some teasing dance. She tells tales of her and Emma being taken to an island with a couple, Bill, and Lucy, that Emma had located to help her – Cass coming along wasn’t the plan. She recounts the years on the island and the one other person they ever saw being a man named Rick that brought them supplies by boat. 

Their mother, Judy Martin, alternates between doting on Cass after her return and discounting her stories saying that she is crazy. The dad is trying to wrap his arms around everything and the step-dad is basically staying out of the way unless summoned by Judy or the FBI agents. 

Abby Winter and her sister Meg grew up with a mother having Narcissistic Personality Disorder and based her doctoral thesis on the topic, therefore, she feels certain she sees the signs of the illness in Judy, as well as, the after-effects and coping skills in Cass and Emma (Emma based on stories on accounts from others). 

Avoiding spoilers I will say this, Emma In The Night has several twists and surprises that made this an unbelievable suspense/thriller. As Cass says to the investigators early in the novel,

We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe.”

Wendy Walker takes us from the return of one missing girl to a complete reveal of a very sick family. Abby suspected the answer lied within the family when the girls disappeared, but it’s only as Cass shares what happened to her that the puzzle pieces finally start coming together. Even when I thought everything had concluded, the author still surprised me at the very end. 

Quite honestly, this was difficult to read at times because of Judy Martin’s character. One of her frequent statements as the girls were growing up was, 

“Am I a good mother? The best mother you could ever want?”

If you frequently read my blog posts, you are aware that I have serious mommy issues. I’ve tried to come to terms with it all and it’s actually a daily effort, despite today being the second anniversary of when I last had to see her. But some of the “Mommie Dearest” actions and statements throughout this novel made me cringe, as well as, seeing the evidence of how having a narcissistic parent affects someone’s life beyond childhood and into adulthood. 

On the other hand, although I related to Abby’s observations of Judy and that a lot of the information is verifiable information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I also felt overwhelmed with it at times. About halfway through the novel, I felt like a great deal of Abby’s research into the disorder was being repeated without any benefit to the overall plot.

Otherwise, I have absolutely zero complaints or criticism regarding this novel. Wendy Walker has expertly woven an edge-of-your-seat thriller that promises several surprises along the way. This is definitely not a light, happy read, however, it was beautifully crafted and held my interest from beginning to end. Emma In The Night paints a disturbing picture of family, lies, greed, narcissism, neglect, and more. Sounds depressing I know, but it was a hell of a read that I absolutely recommend. 

Any screenwriters reading this out there? This needs to be adapted to a movie asap! 

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pre-Order Emma In The Night on Amazon!

Learn more about Wendy Walker by visiting her web page!

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: 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: Final Girls

FINAL GIRLS, BY RILEY SAGER

PUBLICATION: DUTTON; JULY 11, 2017

final girlsAbout the book: 

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My Review:

I am so excited to bring you my review of Final Girls today! I’ve been dying to read this one and it absolutely did not disappoint!

The main character, Quincy Carpenter, is what the media calls “a final girl.” She earned that title being the only survivor of a brutal massacre ten years earlier while staying at a cabin in the woods, Pine Cottage. The other final girls are Lisa, who survived a sorority house massacre and Samantha, who survived a hotel attack by someone named “The Sack Man.” The media attempted to bring the three final girls together at various times over the years, but they have never met. Quincy did speak to Lisa on the phone but never met Samantha. 

Quincy’s character displayed strength in the fact that she was living a somewhat normal life (as normal as possible taking several Xanax each day) living in a gorgeous NYC apartment with a wonderful man and maintaining a baking blog that had earned her several high-profile jobs. But then she receives an urgent message from Coop, the police officer that she found the night of the murders at Pine Cottage, and the one that shot and killed the attacker that was chasing her. When she meets Coop at their normal coffee shop, she learns that Lisa has been found dead, apparently from suicide. 

I really liked Quincy’s character from the start, especially the way she had still managed to create a somewhat happy and successful life for herself despite the physical and emotional wounds incurred at Pine Cottage. Then again, it probably helped that she remembered almost nothing from that night. I also liked her live-in boyfriend, Jeff, although at times I felt like he tried too hard reminding and assuring her that she was normal and happy. Besides Jeff and the occasional chat with her mother, the only other person in her life was the cop that saved her, Coop. He checked in with her off and on and visited her a few times a year just to see how she was doing and to make sure that she didn’t need him for anything. Coop seemed to be Quincy’s rock that she could count on, and although he was very handsome, their relationship remained platonic as if he were a concerned big brother. 

Things take a very strange and creepy turn when Sam (Samantha Boyd, a final girl) suddenly appears at Quincy’s apartment. Having “been off the grid” for years, no one knows much about Sam other than from her initial interview after “The Sack Man” murders. Sam’s character seemed very suspicious to me from the moment she entered Quincy’s life and there were little to no moments that I felt any trust or admiration for her character. Quincy begins to transform into a completely different character once Sam is around, and even more so after new information comes out about Lisa’s death. 

Without giving anything away, I can say that every theory I developed while reading this novel was completely off-base. I would think I had figured things out, but then something else happened blowing my suspicions out of the water. Riley Sager created compelling and complex characters and weaved them into a story of endless layers of suspense. I love it when a suspense/thriller proves me wrong, but Final Girls did this several times as she peeled back more and more layers of the characters. I was floored by the outcome but in a fabulous way!

If I had to mention anything at all that I was not crazy about, it would have to be the sudden and extreme changes in Quincy after Sam came along. Some of it seemed almost absurd to me, however, it all created a great deal of tension just making me want to continue on to learn the outcome of everything.

Final Girls is full of deliciously complex characters that created endless twists and turns throughout this novel. Raw emotions, no matter how ugly, were consistently put on display just strengthening the creepy, uneasy feeling about all of the murders and the idea of being a final girl. This was an amazing novel that I will not soon forget. I look forward to more from author Riley Sager in the future. 

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

Learn more about Riley Sager by visiting her web page.

Pre-Order Final Girls on Amazon!

Reviews

Book Review: Guilty

GUILTY, BY LAURA ELLIOT

PUBLICATION:  BOOKOUTURE; JUNE 22, 2017

GuiltyAbout the book: 

It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child.

On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Constance Lawson is reported missing.

A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect.

Six years later …

Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare.

An utterly compelling psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child.

My Review:

I have been so excited to read Guilty, the upcoming novel from talented author Laura Elliot.  The novel is divided into four parts at different points in the characters’ lives. The primary focus of each part is Karl Lawson, uncle of Connie Lawson that goes missing and/or Amanda Bowe, tabloid reporter. I don’t want to give spoilers so I’m trying to word this carefully, but Karl’s wonderful life is basically ruined after his niece’s disappearance, mainly due to Amanda Bowe’s accusatory journalism and the way in which she targeted Karl during the investigation. As the novel progresses we see Karl’s life unravel, Amanda’s life get better and better, Karl’s life get better, and Amanda’s life unravel.

My challenge in writing this review is that the first part was wonderful, the second part was o.k., but then things were odd in parts three and four. There were wonderfully suspenseful moments in parts three and four, but it was nothing compared to the first two parts.

Although I didn’t like the character of Amanda in the least, the author developed her perfectly, creating a fabulous villain as the nosy, pushy reporter. Karma is very unkind to Amanda, although I felt her later suffering was deserved. 

I liked Karl from the beginning, despite some poor judgement on his part. However, as the novel progresses he just gets too weird. I was unable to identify with him at all as the anger and resentment took over his life, and he also became flat-out strange, in my opinion. Where he seemed a well-developed complex character in parts one and two, his character was flat for the remainder of the novel. I did sympathize with him for several reasons, however, and found it unfortunate that when things started getting better, he was still so focused on revenge. 

Guilty addresses several important themes involving trust, faith in people, and how easily society is influenced by the media. Regardless of how unbelievable or awful, the author demonstrated how quickly seeds can be planted in the mind and how it can spread like wildfire. Remorse, or lack thereof, is also addressed repeatedly throughout the novel, which made me want to ask Amanda’s character several times, “karma sucks doesn’t it?” 

Overall I enjoyed this novel, but the disconnect and odd shifts throughout the parts of this novel made it difficult for me to love it. It began with suspenseful momentum, but spiralled downward after that. 

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

Pre-Order Guilty on Amazon.

Learn more about Laura Elliot by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Book Review: Deceived

DECEIVED, BY HEENA RATHORE P.

PUBLICATION: CITRUS; JUNE 24, 2017

DECEIVEDAbout the book:

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of the human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the midst of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

My Review:

Today, I am reviewing Deceived, the debut novel from author Heena Rathore P. Lovers of psychological thrillers, serial killers, crime, and suspense – do not overlook this novel!

  • Ally is a writer, in a relationship with a man named Danny, has a roommate Sam, a loving father Stephen Stone, and her beloved German Shepherd, Max. Ally is also still dealing with the brutal murders of her mother and little brother 9 years earlier.  
  • Steve is a journalist returning to his hometown of Dewer as a supervisor at the newspaper he works for. He is also returning to amend his relationship with Ally and to investigate the murders of his aunt and cousin. Steve thinks this is the work of a serial killer but needs to make the connection.
  •  In 1978, Elizabeth Lawson murdered her parents and disappeared. 
  • Then there is another unknown character, dead set on revenge and ruining Ally and her father’s lives.

While reading this book, I would highly suggest having a glass of wine nearby, or whatever your preferred adult beverage is. Also, I would not read this while home alone, at night. Deceived is so incredibly suspenseful and creepy I am not sure I have the words in my vocabulary to accurately describe it. However, there were numerous times while reading that chill bumps covered my arms.

The novel is opened with a distinction between psychopaths and sociopaths which was not only interesting but set the scene for everything to come.  I wouldn’t even attempt to discuss the plot for fear of spoilers, but I will say that this novel is non-stop action and it seemed as if every page held a new clue or new background information on the characters. The author developed her characters thoroughly and at times almost too well, leaving me with such creepy feelings. Although the novel is fast-paced and absolutely a page-turner, the resolution unfolds slowly, almost teasingly, increasing your desire to figure everything out. 

The only negative to this novel, just my personal thoughts, was the ending. On one hand, I loved the creepy nature of the ending, despite it being the resolution of the plot. But on the other hand, I felt it lacked closure. Otherwise, I loved every scary, suspenseful, and shocking moment of this novel. Bravo to Heena Rathore P. for such an amazing debut novel! I look forward to reading her again in the future. 

*I will warn readers of potential triggers involving sexual abuse, rape, and explicit physical violence. This novel is about multiple killings, so expect details regarding the murders. 

 

*Thanks to the author and publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Learn more about Heena Rathore P. by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Book Review: The Breakdown

THE BREAKDOWN, BY B.A. PARIS

PUBLICATION: ST. MARTIN’S PRESS; JULY 18, 2017

breakdownAbout the book: 

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

My Review:

I’m not sure where to begin this review or what I can say without giving spoilers, but oh my God, what a book! The Breakdown is one of the best suspense/thrillers I can recall reading – ever. This novel has that special magic that makes it addictive, surprising, horrifying, and amazing all at once. The basic premise is that the main character, Cass, took a creepy short-cut home from an end of the school year bash with her fellow teachers. While driving home in a blinding rain storm, she passes a car on the side of the road. The next day, it’s all over the news about a woman being found dead in that car on that road. Cass starts freaking out because her husband warned her not to take that short-cut at night and especially in a storm, so she can’t tell him what she saw. Then a ton of strange things start happening and she’s struggling to try to determine if someone saw her drive by, or if she’s just losing her mind.  

I’m a huge fan of suspense/thrillers, but this one completely floored me. I think I retold 95% of the story to my husband once I finished reading, all the while commenting over and over that this should be made into a movie. What I loved about The Breakdown is that the theories I developed early on proved to be absolutely wrong. When things started to come together, I couldn’t believe it. There are no words to describe the love I feel for an author that can shock me like this. I never saw this coming and was suspecting someone else the entire time.

The Breakdown will evoke several emotions including fear, creepiness, suspicion, sadness, and so on. But I promise that you will quickly be drawn into these characters’ lives and circumstances and will not be able to focus on anything else until you’ve finished reading. It is not often that I am so surprised by the outcome of a novel and I adore the fact that this was so shocking. This is a must-read for any fan of suspense/thrillers and I promise that you will not be disappointed. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order The Breakdown on Amazon!