Reviews

Book Review: Where in the Dark

Where in the Dark (A Cydney Granger Thriller Book 2),

 by Karen Millie-James

Publication: King of the Road Publishing Limited; September 4, 2017

where in the darkAbout the book: 

Two envelopes. Two Holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer
bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic
investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave,
enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth
behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden
Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her
husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier, Cydney puts her
personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice
an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed
name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US
presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against
humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former
sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding
her husband?

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back
before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a
banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which
there is only one final solution.

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile,
a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s
corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men
will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc. 

Where in the Dark is the second novel in the Cydney Granger series, and once again brings a ton of secrets, crime, and suspense. After the death of her husband Steve years earlier, Cydney is living with her teenage twin children and her husband’s best friend, Sean, who promised Steve he would look after his family if something happened to him. Cydney’s romance with George has bloomed and they are a happy family together. 

Cydney’s close friend/father figure Rupert is back this time and refers his friends and Holocaust survivors Harold and Alfie to Cydney when they each receive one million dollar bearer bonds in the mail. The investigation into the bonds takes Cydney to West Virginia in search of who mailed the bonds and why, while Sean is investigating whether or not Steve is really dead. 

Cydney is once again contacted by spirits that not only aid in her investigation regarding the bonds but help her solve the puzzle regarding her supposedly deceased husband. 

Thoughts and Reactions

Let me begin with trigger warnings regarding this novel. There is a great deal of content regarding the mistreatment of the Jewish people during WWII. Although relevant, Karen Millie-James did a great deal of research and included this detailed research regarding the treatment of those held in concentration camps throughout the novel. 

Now, let me attempt to explain how incredible this novel is without giving spoilers, of course. Where in the Dark is a suspense/thriller, but at a higher level with a complex plot and extremely complex characters. Once Harold and Alfie contact Cydney regarding the bonds, things quickly begin unfolding leaving a trail of puzzle pieces.

The bonds are traced to a bank in West Virginia, but one that also had branches in Germany at one point. That bank is owned by an Albert Whiteman, who used to be known as Adolf Weissmuller when he was a member of the Third Reich. At ninety years old, Albert has been confessing the sins of his life and trying to seek some sort of forgiveness, however, Albert’s Nazi ties risk the future of the bank his family built, as well as his son’s future – his son being the Governor of West Virginia with plans to run as a Presidential candidate. 

Running parallel to the investigation into the bonds is the investigation into whether or not Cydney’s husband is still alive and being held by a unit of the Special Forces. Sean has been helping and caring for Cydney and the children since Steve’s “death,” but now a tension rises between them as he tries to learn what has really happened to Steve.

Back to my assertion earlier about this being a higher level suspense thriller, there is nothing simple or easy about the plot of this novel. Karen-Millie James crafted very detailed sub-plots that not only enhance the story but make it completely fascinating. Don’t get me wrong, this is a difficult read at times and not a novel that you will breeze through quickly. However, everything is tied together seamlessly as she slowly reveals the whole picture.

Something I enjoy and respect about Millie-James’ writing is her characterization. Regardless of how secondary a character appears, her writing ensures that you can see and hear this character, in addition to knowing a great deal about them. There are no blanks or question marks after reading this novel or her previous novel, based on her impeccable character development. 

On a personal note, I have even more respect for the author and her writing because of the amount of research that went into this novel. Being that I am in the United States and in Virginia (right next door to West Virginia, for those not from the U.S.), Karen Millie-James asked me questions that seemed so mundane, yet it all made since once I read the novel, such as, “what would someone in West Virginia call their father and grandfather? or What do you know about West Virginia politics?)

Not only is the novel outstanding, but it is based on research, as well as, personal family history of Karen Millie-James and her ancestors. Anyone interested in an intelligent, thought-provoking suspense/crime thriller, Where in the Dark should be placed at the top of your TBR. 

*Many thanks to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Pre-Order Where in the Dark on Amazon!

Learn more about Karen Millie-James by visiting her web page. 

 

Reviews

Book Review: The Party

The Party, by Elizabeth Day

Publication: Little, Brown & Company; August 15, 2017

the partyAbout the book:

A taut psychological tale of obsession and betrayal set over the course of a dinner party, THE PARTY tells the story of two married couples who, in a single evening, will come to question everything they thought they knew about each other, as the long-buried secret at the heart of their friendship comes to the surface, culminating in an explosive act of violence.

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben’s wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben’s dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she’ll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Martin and his wife Lucy are invited to Martin’s best friend’s (Ben) 40th birthday party. Ben and his wife Serena have an amazing, sprawling home they purchased from monks, with more than enough room to host Martin and Lucy for the night, however, they are not invited to stay over and have to book a sub-par hotel. 

Shifting between the 1980’s to the present, the novel outlines Martin’s childhood, his attendance at a boarding school where he met Ben, through college, into adulthood. However, early in the novel, Martin is in the police station being questioned about Ben’s 40th birthday party and what happened. 

Thoughts and Reactions

If you have read The Dinner, by Herman Koch, chances are you already know the overall makeup of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Day’s writing was impeccable, beautiful, and eloquent. However, I couldn’t get past the deja vu and the feeling that I had already read this story, just with different age groups and circumstances. 

There are several themes and issues in this novel including the power of family money, entitlement, struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, and so on. Very early in the novel, it is clear that there is something a little off about Martin. Although intelligent and creative, there’s this inner obsession that devours him, keeping him from leading a normal, healthy life. 

The time periods flip-flop throughout the novel between Martin and Ben growing into adulthood, the party, and after the party. During these shifts between time, it becomes evident that all of the involved parties are completely insane. Martin, his wife Lucy, Ben, his wife Serena, Ben’s family, and so on. There is a complete disconnect between these characters and any possible resemblance of moral compass. 

The plot and character development were satisfyingly complex, however, I struggled to connect, like, or even tolerate any of the characters in this novel. Each and every character was either self-absorbed, trying too hard to be different, or putting on a show of who they should be, rather than, who they really were. This was truly the most pretentious gathering of characters that I have ever seen, and I’m not sure it added to the novel in any way. 

This is another novel that is difficult to adequately review without spoilers, but I will leave you with these thoughts. The writing, once again, is impeccable. However, given that I was unable to connect with any of the characters and there were times the story seemed to drag, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this novel. Although, if by chance you are a fan of Herman Koch’s The Dinner, this novel will completely float your boat.

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

Pre-Order The Party on Amazon

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: 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: 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: Taking Down Brooklyn

Taking Down Brooklyn,

by K.B. Andrews & Kelly Moore

Publication: August 15, 2017

brooklynAbout the book: 

My life was my own, that is until I met B. She was meant to be one night of fun. One night of forgetting my miserable, lonely life.

I’m a hired killer, a modern-day hero, of sorts.

I’m paid well to take out the bad guys. I take the money, I do the job, no questions asked – until her beautiful face becomes my target.

B suddenly has a name. Brooklyn Warren, The President’s daughter.

The woman who I’ve thought about since the night we were together, now becomes my target. She has a bullseye’s on her head and a large amount of money is being offered to take her out. But I don’t kill innocent people and Brooklyn is not only innocent but highly intelligent and trying to save millions of lives.

She’s come up with the cure for cancer and pissed off the mighty pharmaceutical companies. They stand to lose billions of dollars at the hands of a sexy redhead. Her father being the President of the United States doesn’t dissuade them from hunting her and threatening him.

Instead of taking the contract to kill her, I rescue her and then she, in turn, rescues me from my lonely life.

Keeping her safe is the only thing that matters to me. Her life will save millions, mine will save none. I will risk everything to keep her safe.

Now the hunt is on for both of us.

My Review:

What’s better than getting to read and review an upcoming novel from your favorite authors? Getting to read and review a novel that they have co-written! Taking Down Brooklyn is a romantic suspense/thriller by K.B. Andrews and Kelly Moore, and oh my goodness, it is fantastic!

John is a handsome, sexy hitman that spots a woman in a bar one night and takes her home. Not being able to get her off of his mind, he’s shocked when he’s called in for a new assignment and sees her picture sitting there in front of him. Even worse, Brooklyn is the President’s daughter and has discovered a cure for cancer. Brooklyn wanted a night away from everything when she was in the bar, wearing a wig, and met John. Never expecting to see him again, she’s shocked to learn that he’s found her and rather than kill her, wants to protect her. 

Let me say that the chemistry between John and Brooklyn was instant. But after their one night together, everything after that is a roller coaster ride of running, hiding, and trying to stay alive. On top of getting away from the bad guys, they are also trying to get to John’s twin brother, Jake, as well as, keep her father – the President of the United States – up to speed on what’s going on. There are numerous twists and turns in this novel where one minute you think things are o.k., then they go bad, then it looks up again, only to have another obstacle in their way. 

I’ve read a few co-written novels and love how two authors can construct a story that you would never think was co-written. I must admit that before reading Taking Down Brooklyn, I was expecting to be able to tell what Kelly wrote and what K.B. wrote. I have read so many of their novels I thought I could figure out which author wrote which chapters, however, I was proven very wrong. Already fantastic authors on their own, they created a perfectly suspenseful and exciting novel together without any shifts in style or voice. The writing is flawless, the characters are interesting and complex, and the imagery used will make you feel as if you are a part of the story. This book is full of romance, hope, regrets, action, and love. There are happy moments and sad moments, but it is absolutely jam-packed with non-stop action. 

I feel as if I haven’t said a lot about the overall plot, but I am trying to avoid spoilers at all costs! Taking Down Brooklyn has fantastic characters and numerous surprising moments that I could not believe. Romance fans that like a dash of thriller/crime fiction will devour this one. Be prepared to fall in love with John as you follow along on this wild ride!

*Special thanks to Kelly Moore and K.B. Andrews for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review! 

Pre-Order Taking Down Brooklyn on Amazon!

Learn more about the fabulous K.B. Andrews and Kelly Moore by visiting their web pages!

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

Review: Everything We Left Behind

Everything We Left Behind, by Kerry Lonsdale

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; July 4, 2017

everything we left behindAbout the book:

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower, and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

My Review:

Those of you that caught my review the other day of Everything We Keep, probably noticed that I wasn’t crazy about it. Yes, reviews have been mixed, but I think the majority of readers loved. I did not. However, I had already received the ARC of Everything We Left Behind and was curious…

Everything We Left Behind did not hold the suspense and twists that were a part of Everything We Keep, but I found that I enjoyed the follow-up much better than the first book. 

At the end of the first book, James was emerging from his fugue state (as Carlos), wondering what in the world had happened and where he was. With no memories of his six years living as Carlos, James doesn’t recognize his children or Natalya, and he still considers Aimee the love of his life. Everything We Left Behind flashes back and forth between Carlos and James, and although there isn’t as much suspense, there is much deeper characterization. The author provides a closer look into James/Carlos, as well as, his children, Thomas, Claire, and Natalya. I must say that I felt that Ian was portrayed in a mostly negative light in this book, but I’ve also tried to remind myself that he is defensive over Aimee and the life they have built together. 

Again, trying to avoid spoilers, Phil is presented in a more positive way in this book, based on his apparent efforts to save James from the trauma that prompted the fugue in the first place, however, I still don’t trust him. After losing myself in this second novel, I’m excited about the third novel due out next year and insanely curious as to where Kerry Lonsdale will take this story next. If you loved book 1, then you will love book 2. If you are like me and just didn’t understand all of the hoopla over book 1, give book 2 a shot. It is much more grounded and more of a study of human personalities than the the first one. 

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

Learn more about Kerry Lonsdale by visiting her web page!

Pre-Order Everything We left Behind on Amazon!

Reviews

Review: Bloodstained Heart Part 2 Revenge

BLOODSTAINED HEART. PART 2: REVENGE, BY AUDRINA LANE

PUBLICATION: JUNE 23, 2017

BH2About the Book:  

Meet Felicity, a wealthy, successful and happily married woman. But is this façade just that, a deception as she continues to plot and scheme against everyone she comes into contact with. Including her husband! No one is safe from her vengeance that has been festering since she was eighteen. She has gotten her way for over forty years and at some point, her revenge may return to hurt her.
Will she survive to triumph or will karma prove that what goes around must surely come back around?
The second part of the story “Bloodstained Heart, Part 2 – Revenge” runs from 1994 to 2012 and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
A novel with dark connotations in its many twists and turns through Felicity’s love life.

My Review:

Once again, I’m excited to tell you about another Audrina Lane novel! This time, it is Bloodstained Heart Part 2, the continuation of the awful, wretched, evil Felicity! Part 1 provided background information about Felicity growing up and gave some insight into why she is the woman that she has become. In Part 2, Felicity and Tony are getting married, thus beginning their own versions of inflicting various types of hell on anyone they come into contact with. Previous characters and events from the Heart Trilogy are included in this novel, but from Felicity’s point of view, adding depth to the horrible things that she has done. 

Without a doubt, I can say that Felicity and Tony are in the top 10 evil couples of the literary world. The levels of lying and deceit that those two are capable of it truly amazing. But as much as I hate them, they make for a page-turner that is impossible to put down. You want to stop and look away, yet you have to keep going to see what they do next. Also in Part 2, the author gives the reader much more information on Daniel, Zach, and Sasha. It was sad to see three, seemingly normal young adults cross paths with Felicity – thus changing their lives forever. Not only were their stories interesting, prompting several “aha” moments based on the previous novel, but it actually made me dislike Felicity and Tony even more – although I didn’t know that was possible. 

I love this series and all of these characters that Audrina Lane has expertly developed. Whether good or bad, they reel you in and leave you wanting much more after you’ve reached the last page. Bloodstained Heart part 2 is full of emotion, suspense, passion, anger, regrets, and of course, revenge. There is not a dull moment in the novel, even when it’s previous information being told from a different POV. If you have already read Part 1, then you must read Part 2 ASAP! If you have not yet started this series, you are missing out on a very wild ride! Congrats to Audrina Lane on this latest release!

Interested in this series? Check out my review for Bloodstained Heart Part 1: Passion

*Thanks to Audrina Lane for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Bloodstained Heart Part 2: Revenge on Amazon!

Learn more about Audrina Lane by visiting her web page.