Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin (audio)

Title: The Birthday Girl
Author: Sue Fortin
Narrator: Penelope Rawlins
Published: November 2017, HarperCollins / HarperImpulse
Length: 10 hours 23 minutes /  364 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea
Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting.
One of them is hiding a secret.
And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.

Four friends.
A party to die for.
Who will survive?

My thoughts: I have been a fan of Sue Fortin for a while now...knowing that her books are twisty and dark and this latest one is no exception. In fact, I had to re-listen to the last few minutes of the book 2 times to make sure I heard the ending was so out of the box crazy - but in a twisted, good way. I loved it! 

What starts off as a surprise getaway weekend for the girls - and really had me thinking of Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark, Wood - was sort of creepy from the get go - and then only got more so. I think this is where Sue Fortin really shines. She has such a creative mind...where she gets these ideas from, I'd love to know.

The story is mainly told from Carys's point of view and she is quite a complicated character. She has issues! But there are also these little sections interspersed that are voiced by an unknown character and these take on quite an eery tone as the book proceeds and it's not until the very end that you realize just who this person really is. I loved the final reveal and this is the part that I had to re-listen to to make sure I had out all the pieces together correctly. I thought I had figured this unknown person out early on but was totally wrong...and now that I do know the true identity am really considering rereading this book under that lens to see if I can pick up any clues along the way!

This book is such a riveting, gripping psychological thriller. It's one of those books that gets under your skin the further along in the book you get. From the games that Joanne has the girls playing to the secrets that each of the carry to the secluded setting of the cottage itself, you know nothing good is going to come from this birthday getaway weekend. Sue Fortin definitely knows how to build tension and suspense and this book is filled with both, so much so that you find yourself on the edge of your seat as you race to the conclusion. 

If you like the unexpected and intense reads...this book is for you! Sue've done it again and I cannot wait to see what comes next. You are definitely an author that cannot be missed for this reader!

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Penelope Rawlins and I thought she did a good job with this audio book. I thought she did a good job with the different voices and her pacing and tone were spot on. I enjoyed listening to this audio book. 


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Review: Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds

Title: Close to Me
Author: Amanda Reynolds
Published: December 2017, Quercus
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Jo Harding can't remember the last year of her life. And her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in the hospital with partial amnesia. In fact, she finds that she's lost an entire year of memories. She can't remember what she did, or anything that happened the night she fell. A lot can happen in a year, and she begins to discover that she may have been leading a double life before the accident.

As she questions the details of the past year and why her family wants her to stay in the dark, she begins to realize she might not be as good a wife and mother as she might have hoped . . . 

My thoughts: This debut novel from Amanda Reynolds is addictive, twisty, and kept me guessing right up til the very end. As many of these types of books as I read, it seems I cannot get enough of them!

I loved the way this story was structured - told from Jo's point of view from before and after the fall as she tries to regain her memories from the last year. I felt this was a brilliant way to tell the story and added to the tension and suspense, especially as the timelines start to intersect. It seems, though, that as desperate as Jo is to regain these memories, her family, most especially her husband Rob, would prefer she did not. What is it that he does not want her to know? Is it that she is not the perfect wife and mother she thought she was?

As much as I loved the mystery of this book - was Jo pushed down the stairs or was it an accident - I loved the family dynamics that make up this book. This is especially true as she is trying to recover her memories - their reactions and hers are really what make this book stand out as you really aren't sure who you can trust and who was telling the truth. I love stories like this and this one really kept me glued to the pages. There is the sense of unease at times, there is a sense that things just aren't right...but is it that Jo did something wrong in the past or someone else?

This is such a great debut novel - it's addictive and fast-paced and the whole time you are wondering just what is going on. It's jam-packed with drama and full of twists and turns and filled with just the right amount of creepiness to make you weary of everyone. I definitely didn't see all the pieces fitting into place the way they did - but I loved the way it all came together and I definitely will be keeping an eye out for what comes next from Amanda Reynolds!


Monday, December 04, 2017

Review: Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax (audio)

Title: Sunshine Beach
Author: Wendy Wax
Series: Ten Beach Road, #4
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Published: June 2016, Penguin Audio / Berkley
Length: 12 hours 52 minutes / 420 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publicist

In this brand-new summer read by the USA Today bestselling author of The House on Mermaid Point, three women join forces to bring a historic seaside hotel back to life…
There’s nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few glasses of wine can’t fix…

After losing their life savings in a Ponzi scheme, Maddie, Avery, and Nikki have banded together to make the most of what they have left, using their determination, ingenuity, guts, and a large dose of elbow grease. It’s Maddie’s daughter Kyra who stumbles across a once glorious beachfront hotel that has fallen into disrepair. The opportunity to renovate this seaside jewel is too good to pass up—especially when they come up with the idea of shooting their own independent television show about the restoration. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. With the cameras rolling, Maddie’s second-chance romance with her all-too-famous new boyfriend gets complicated, Avery struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and Nikki’s reluctance to commit to the man who loves her could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life. Even the hotel seems to be against them, when their renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved murder which just might bring their lives tumbling down all over again…

My thoughts: This is the 4th book in Wendy Wax's Ten Beach Road series and I really enjoy this series. I do think though, this is one of those series that in order to really understand the full impact of the characters and their history and backstory, you really do need to read this story in order...especially with this book where some characters from previous books pop back in. It just makes for a more richer reading experience, in my opinion. That being said...all these books really are fun, enjoyable reads that just seem to get better and better, so why not pick up the whole series?

So, in this latest installment, we find the gals looking for their next project and the one that they stumble upon comes with quite a twist - a murder mystery! That's one of my favorite parts of this series - each one of the books so far have been so very different. Because this one involved this murder mystery, more time seemed to be devoted to that than the actual renovation work that we usually get, which is not a criticism in any way, just a change a of pace. I actually liked it - it added an extra dimension to the story.

I love that with each book, we see how the friendships between these women continues to blossom. These women don't always see eye to eye, yet they listen to each other, work out a compromise and are willing to help when one needs it. They truly care for each other and I admire that. And they make me laugh...and crave cheese doodles (no matter how bad they are for you!) while I'm reading the book. Do you have a book or series of books that make you crave a certain food because it's mentioned so many times? If you read this book or any in the series, you'll know why I mentioned the cheese doodles!

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to one of the books in this series and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. I have listened to Amy Rubinate before, so I already knew going in I was in for a treat and I was very pleased with the way she narrated this book. She gave all the characters distinct voices and I her pacing and tone were pleasant to listen to. This was a great audio to listen to while getting some house cleaning and other stuff done around the house - it made all those chores much more pleasant!

Books in this series:

      1.  Ten Beach Road
      2.  Ocean Beach
      2.5  Christmas At The Beach
      3.  The House on Mermaid Point 

     4.  Sunshine Beach
     5.  One Good Thing
     5.5  A Bella Flora Christmas
     6.  Best Thing Ever - due out May 2018  

Friday, December 01, 2017

Month in Review: November 2017

Goodbye November ... Hello December!!! I can't believe it's December already ... 1 month left in 2017! How is that possible? This past month was used as a catch-up month - I got some review written that were long past due and read/listened to some books that had been sitting on my shelves for a while.

But the biggest news is that I gave my blog a make-over ... and I love the new look. With that, came a new look for my twitter page and I created a Facebook page for the blog. It was so much fun doing the make-over and I'm quite happy with the results!!!

Here are my reading stats for November!
  • Books read: 18
Books I read:
  1. The Watcher -- Ross Armstrong
  2. The Girl Who Was Taken -- CharlieDonlea (audio book)
  3. The Missing -- C.L. Taylor
  4. Three Days & a Life -- Pierre Lemaitre
  5. The House by the River --Lena Manta
  6. I Know a Secret -- Tess Gerritsen (audio book)
  7. P.S. from Paris -- Marc Levy
  8. Odd Child Out -- Gilly Macmillan
  9. Daughters of the Bride -- Susan Mallery (audio book)
  10. No Easy Target -- Iris Johansen (audio book)
  11. Dying Breath -- Helen Phifer (e-book)
  12. Sunshine Beach -- Wendy Wax (audio book)
  13. Every Breath You Take -- Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke (audio book)
  14. Anatomy of a Scandal -- Sarah Vaughan
  15. Keep Her Safe --Sophie Hannah
  16. Stillhouse Lake -- Rachel Caine (audio book)
  17. Close to Me -- Amanda Reynolds (e-book)
  18. Lie to Me -- Eric Rickstad (audio book)
Favorite Books of November:
  • Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan
  • Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds

2017 Reading Challenge Update:
  • You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 191/150 - Completed
  • Library Reading Challenge -- Books Borrowed: 20/24
  • #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 9/15
  • New Authors Reading Challenge -- New Authors Read: 79/45 - Completed
  • E-books Reading Challenge -- E-books Read: 33/25 - Completed
  • Audio Books Reading Challenge -- Books Listened to: 81/50 - Completed

*Kathyrn over at The Book Date has created a Month in Review meme for those who put together these monthly posts. From now on, I'll be linking my post up each month...Thanks Kathryn for putting this meme together!!!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen (audio)

Title: I Know a Secret
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: Rizzoli & Isles, #12
Narrator: Tanya Eby
Published: August 2017, Brilliance Audio
Length: 9 hours 9 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

In the twelfth gripping novel featuring Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, the crime-solving duo—featured in the smash-hit TNT series Rizzoli & Isles—are faced with the gruesomely staged murder of a horror film producer. 

The crime scene is unlike any that Detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have ever before encountered. The woman lies in apparently peaceful repose on her bed, and Maura finds no apparent cause of death, but there is no doubt the woman is indeed dead. The victim’s eyes have been removed and placed in the palm of her hand, a gesture that echoes the terrifying films she produces. Is a crazed movie fan reenacting scenes from those disturbing films?

When another victim is found, again with no apparent cause of death, again with a grotesquely staged crime scene, Jane and Maura realize the killer has widened his circle of targets. He’s chosen one particular woman for his next victim, and she knows he’s coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Jane and Maura catch the killer.

But she knows a secret. And it’s a secret she’ll never tell.

My thoughts: I am a huge fan of Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series and I was so happy to see there was a new book out in this's been a while since the last book - three years to be exact!

This latest book was so twisty and intense - just how I like these books to be. I love that in these books, we are dropped right into the crime - there is no easing into it. It takes off right from the start and doesn't let up until the very end. The first case that Maura and Jane are called to is quite gruesome but it is the second murder that really has their heads spinning. I loved the symbolism used here in these and the subsequent cases - it's quite clever and this is where I feel Tess Gerritsen really shines. She is able to give not only the forensics of the case, but also so much more.

Of course, not only do we have the cases going on, but there is also lots of character development happening as well. This is what I most love about this series and I feel Tess balances it so well - you have the heaviness and darkness of the cases, and believe me, at times it is quite dark, and then you have the lightheartedness of what is going on with our beloved characters, some much needed quirky family drama. But of course, most of the character development only makes sense if you have been reading this series in order. That's not to say that you couldn't pick up this book and read it as a stand-alone because you totally could. You would just miss out on some of the back-story relating to the character development and to me, that's the whole point of a series.

This book has some crazy twists and really kept me on my toes, guessing as to who was behind the murders. I sure do hope we don't have to wait another couple years before the next book in this series comes out, especially since the tv show has been cancelled (and I loved the tv version of this series, however different it was!). This is a gripping read full of intrigue and suspense - a great installment to one of my favorite series.

Audio thoughts: This is such a fun series to listen to, despite it's heavy, dark nature and I think Tanya Eby does a great job with it. She's been narrating the last few books and I love the consistency in that. I'm a big fan of having the same narrator narrate a series, whenever possible - it just helps keep voices straight and makes sense - and having Tanya stay with this series has been great! She really makes an effort to give each character their own unique voice and I enjoy her narration.

Books in this series:

  1. The Surgeon                                9.  The Silent Girl            
  2. The Apprentice                          9.5  Freaks
  3. The Sinner                                    9.7  John Doe
  4. Body Double                                10.  Last To Die
  5. Vanish                                            11.  Die Again
  6. The Mephisto Club                   12.  I Know a Secret
  7. The Keepsake
  8. Ice Cold               

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Dying Breath by Helen Phifer

Title: Dying Breath 
Author: Helen Phifer 
Series: Detective Lucy Harwin, #2 
Published: November 2017, Bookouture 
Format: ARC E-copy, 285 pages 
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.
Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland.

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality - a killer is walking the streets of their town.

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers.

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?

A dark, gripping and sinister crime novel that will hook fans of Patricia Gibney, Joy Ellis and Angela Marsons from the very first page. 

My thoughts: This is the second book in Helen Phifer's Detective Lucy Harwin series and I quite excited to read this one. It's a dark, gritty police procedural series that opens with a bang and keeps you engaged throughout!

Detective Lucy Harwin just might be one of my favorite detectives out there. She's feisty and tough, yet she dedicates her all to the cases at hand. She is determined to track down this killer before he/she strikes again. And despite having to work with her nemesis, DI Patrick Baker, she is the ultimate professional - at least outwardly. 

The storyline is incredibly complex and the way it is told, in my opinion is absolutely brilliant! Having parts of the story narrated by our murderer is just chilling. Being able to delve into this character's childhood and see what sparked the idea of becoming a serial killer, while sick and twisted, really brings this character's motivations to life. 

The pace of this book is just right - not too fast, but not that slow either. It hooks you right from the start and doesn't let up until the very end when you are left completely stunned at the reveal of who the murderer is. I was totally shocked and definitely didn't see that coming. 

My only complaint is that I felt the book ended a bit abruptly...we find out who the killer is, all is good and then BAM, it's over practically in the next sentence. Kinda weird, but I guess that happens sometimes.  Oh well...either way, I will definitely be looking out for the next book as I really enjoy this series and want to see what happens next for Lucy!

Books in this series:
  1. The Lost Children
  2. Dying Breath 

Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea (audio)

Title: The Girl Who Was Taken
Author: Charlie Done
Narrator: Nina Alvamar
Published: April 2017, Recorded Books
Length: 10 hours 48 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn't and the forensics expert searching for answers.

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole's older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole's body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister's fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole's disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia's morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole's past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you've been looking for.

My thoughts: I first became a fan of Charlie Donlea after listening to his debut novel, Summit Lake, last year. I loved that one, so it was with baited breath that I waited for his sophomore novel to be released...and I definitely wasn't disappointed!

Once again, we have a very solid mystery with a crazy twist at the end that I definitely did not see coming. This time around, it involves two abducted girls - one who returns and one who doesn't - a cult who focuses on kidnappings, and the forensic pathology fellow who is determined to get to the bottom of the case. 

I loved the way the story was told - two timelines, one in the present day, where Livia and Megan are working to put together what really happened that fateful night, and one in the past leading up to the kidnapping. As we get deeper into the story and each of the story lines are flushed out, it becomes clear who is involved and where it is all going - that's where the tension starts rising, that's where your heart starts beating frantically as you reach the conclusion.

I have to say that when we first meet Megan, I wasn't exactly a fan. I felt that she was a bit full of herself and all about seeking attention. But, as time goes on and we learn more about her, you start to realize that there is way more to her than meets the eye. She has substance to her and is really concerned about Nicole. By the end of the book, I really liked her a lot! 

This book kept me engaged from start to finish, with plenty of twists and turns. And I loved all the forensic details we are given - though, fair warning, it isn't really for the faint of heart! I do wish, though, that the book hadn't ended as it did...I would have loved a bit more about the why behind the kidnapper's motives or something. There didn't seem to be anything like that. And I would love to see more of Livia - she is such a great character...I think she would make a great protagonist in a series! Either way, I am definitely adding Charlie Donlea to my auto-read list...his books are just so good!

Audio thoughts: This was such a great book to listen to and I think Nina Alvamar did a fantastic job with the narration. Her pacing and tone were spot on and she gave all the characters their own unique voices. She really brings the characters to life with her narration.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke (audio)

Title: The Sleeping Beauty Killer
Author: Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
Series: Under Suspicion, #3
Narrator: Jan Maxwell
Published: November 2016, Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 8 hours 39 minutes
Source: Library

The third thrilling installment in the bestselling Under Suspicion series from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke—television producer Laurie Moran puts everything on the line to help a woman she thinks was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Casey Carter was convicted of murdering her fiancĂ©—famed philanthropist Hunter Raleigh III—fifteen years ago. And Casey claims—has always claimed—she’s innocent. Although she was charged and served out her sentence in prison, she is still living “under suspicion.” She hears whispers at the grocery store. She can’t get a job. Even her own mother treats her like she’s guilty. Her story attracts the attention of Laurie Moran and the Under Suspicion news team—it’s Casey’s last chance to finally clear her name, and Laurie pledges to exonerate her.

With Alex Buckley taking a break from the show—cooling his potential romance with Laurie—Under Suspicion introduces a new on-air host named Ryan Nichols, a young legal whiz with a Harvard Law degree, Supreme Court clerkship, experience as a federal prosecutor, and regular stints on the cable news circuit. He’s got a big reputation and the attitude to match it. Ryan has no problems with steering—and stealing—the show, and even tries to stop Laurie from taking on Casey’s case because he’s so certain she’s guilty.

An egomaniacal new co-host, a relentless gossip columnist who seems to have all the dirt (and a surprising informant), and Casey’s longstanding bad reputation: Laurie must face this and more to do what she believes is right, to once and for all prove Casey’s innocence—that is, if she’s innocent… The Sleeping Beauty Killer will keep you guessing until the very end.

My thoughts: This is the third book in the Under Suspicion series, a collaboration by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke and I really am enjoying this series. So far each installment has been quite different and engaging and the character development has been stellar.

I love Laurie's character, but in this installment, I found her to be a bit lacking. Perhaps it was because of her and Alex's split - both professionally and personally. I admit, I am a bit bummed that he is not part of the show and am not a fan of Ryan. I sure hope he does not last too long! 

While I admit I did guess the true killer early on, I found it quite fun to figure out the why. As the show unravels the case, it was interesting to see how the pieces would come together and I definitely didn't see all that coming into play. There are many twists and turns and a few instances of danger for Laurie that keep you on your toes - this is why I enjoy this series and this was the first time I guessed the murderer!

I am a fan of this collaboration and love the way these two powerhouse authors have created a fun, intriguing series that keeps you engaged throughout. I just hope that we haven't seen the last of Alex...I really like Laurie and Alex together!

Audio thoughts: This is such a fun series to listen to and Jan Maxwell does a superb job narrating it. She gives each character their own unique voice and carries those voices over from book to book. Her pacing and tone are spot on and she infuses just the right amount of tension and emotion into the voice as needed.

Books in this series:
.5   I've Got You Under My Skin
     1.   The Cinderella Murder

     2.   All Dressed in White 

     3.   The Sleeping Beauty Killer
     4.   Every Breath You Take

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell (audio)

Title: A Simple Favor 
Author: Darcey Bell 
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Xe Sands, Matthew Waterson 
Published: March 2017, HarperAudio 
Length: 8 hours 55 minutes 
Source: Library

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother's life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A SIMPLE FAVOR is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

My thoughts: Sometimes you pick up a book and you aren't quite sure what to think of it...even after sitting on it for a while. That is how I feel about this one - what the heck did I just read? 

Domestic thrillers seem to be picking up steam and I would certainly classify this book as just that. It's intense for sure, it's full of unreliable characters and boy oh boy do these characters have secrets. I think that's what kept me going - I needed to find out what was going on and where it would all end up! I have to admit, I was hooked.  

The story is told from three points of view - Stephanie, Emily and Sean. We start off hearing from Stephanie, both from her and through her blog. Then we hear from Emily and Sean, but believe me when I say - nothing is as it seems. Each of these characters have more secrets than you can possibly imagine. 

I will say that the book starts off a little slow - while I found the use of the blog to tell parts of the story interesting, at times its quite cloying and annoying. Though, I I did think it was quite interesting how the blog posts Stephanie writes were very different than reality...hmmm! But, once it gets into the real life of the characters - then the story picks up. Fair warning though...these characters really have no redeeming qualities...these are the kinds of characters you love to hate! But I think that's what makes this book all the more want to see them get what's coming to them. And trust me, you definitely won't see how this all plays out!

All in all, this was a rather uniquely enjoyable thriller that kept me engaged. I would definitely check out what comes next from Darcey Bell, especially if she wrote another book in this genre! 

Audio thoughts: Listening to this book was quite a treat. I am a big fan of Xe Sands, but the other two narrators were new to me. That being said, I thought they all did a great job with this audio production. I really enjoyed it and will certainly be looking to see what else they have narrated. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Title: Little Secrets 
Author: Anna Snoekstra 
Published: October 2017, MIRA 
Format: ARC E-copy, 336 pages 
Source: Netgalley 

What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town's courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn't nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock's daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town's already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose's attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

My thoughts: Last year, I read Anna Snoekstra's debut novel Only Daughter, which I liked and have been looking forward to seeing what she wrote next. So when I saw that her sophomore novel was available on Netgalley, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. 

This is a smart, small-town crime thriller, that focuses on what happens when people act without thought to the consequences. It isn't really fast-paced at all, it has more of a slow-burning aspect to it that will consume you as you read it, desperate to figure out how all the pieces come together. 

What I really enjoyed was the sense of paranoia that develops as the story progresses. The suspense ratchets up and you end up not knowing who is trustworthy. The characters, while not very likeable, are compelling and they get under your skin - you just need to know what is really going on and why.

This atmospheric mystery was full of suspense, yet has a dark underlying tone to it. It a small-town filled with secrets and kept me guessing right up to the very end. I look forward to seeing what comes next from this author.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: Winter Solstice by Elin Hildebrand (audio)

Title: Winter Solstice
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Series: Winter, #4
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published: October 2017, Hachette Audio
Length: 8 hours 41 minutes
Source: Library

Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn.

It's been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that's about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they've experienced in years. And Bart's safe return isn't the family's only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she's finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn't be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love--and some of the things we endure--about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

My thoughts: This is the fourth and final book in Elin Hilderbrand's Winter series and I am so bummed! I absolutely fell in love with the Quinn family and loved being able to visit Nantucket these past four years during the winter. 

Before I go any further...I will say that to fully appreciate this series, I think you really should read these books in order. The books are quite short - all less than 300 pages - and they are rather quick reads. The character development builds from the first book, with each one adding on a little more, and that really is the heart of this series, and this last one really does tie everything up, for good or bad - all loose ends are wrapped up as we bid the Quinn family one last goodbye. But of course, that's just my opinion.

So, here we are, the fourth book - a bonus book in what was supposed to originally be a trilogy - of an outstanding series...a series about what can only be called a dysfunctional family. Don't get me wrong - I loved the Quinn family...but they were dysfunctional. But that's what made them so endearing because they weren't this picture-perfect family. They had issues - all of them! And in this latest book, we get one last chance to see what they are up to. Most of them are, as usual, in some sort of limbo - about to make a big decision that will affect the rest of their life. But that's not to say the book isn't without it's usual drama - because there is plenty of that, too.

There are also a few cameo's throughout the book of some minor characters who were part of story lines in earlier books. I liked this...I liked seeing them one last time, having them pop in again as a final goodbye. But the best cameo by far was Fast Eddie and his family. If you've read The Rumor, one of Elin's summer books than you know all about him...and if you haven't - you really should (it came out in 2015). I loved seeing him in this book and I believe this was the first time Elin has done a cross-over like that with her characters.

This book has all the will make you laugh and smile and it will most likely also have you shedding a few tears. It is a fitting ending to a great series and while I am sad to see it end, I am happy to report that Elin Hilderbrand will be writing another series...YAY!!! I absolutely love her books - I have read everything she has written to date and have met her numerous times. She is genuine and charming and her books are the perfect balance of fun with a little substance. 

Audio thoughts: Erin Bennett really does a great job narrating this book. I had listened to the previous book and really enjoyed that narration, so I decided to listen to this one as well. Erin gives each character their own unique voice, her pacing is good and she uses just the right amount of emotion in her voice as needed. 

Books in this series: 
  1. Winter Street
  2. Winter Stroll
  3. Winter Storms 
  4. Winter Solstice

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