Our House by Louise Candlish

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When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other.

Review

Imagine you come back from a vacation, and you find that someone has moved into your house, except that your house was not for sale. This is how Our House by Louise Candlish starts. We are introduced to Fionna Lawson, aka Fi and her horror when she enters her house to find another family moving in and all of her furniture gone. Her children are nowhere to be found, and neither is her husband, Bram.

The magic of this book was Candlish’s ability to take you on this ride with Fi as her life spirals out of control and the reader feels every bit of desperation that Fi feels. Is she insane? Is she dreaming? Is this some prank someone is pulling on her? The premise of the book is genius and you can’t help but keep on reading.

What I enjoyed about this book was how the story was told from Fi’s perspective via a recording of the podcast The Victim, tweets that people posted based on Fi’s recorded story, and Bram’s word document explaining what had happened. I think this was an interesting, although not the first author to do it, way to tell a story.

Unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged on and on towards the end. Although the ending was surprising, when it finally came it was not strong enough to pull the story through.

I would like to thank Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

The Burning by S.O. Esposito

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Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She’s happily married, has two beautiful children, a close-knit group of friends, and a cause she cares deeply about. But beneath the surface, her world of safety and comfort is unraveling. The periods of lost time she’s kept secret—even from her husband—are happening more frequently. She certainly doesn’t remember leaving her Sarasota home at three-thirty in the morning to burn someone alive. Now she sits in a Florida state mental institution, awaiting judgment on whether she’s fit to stand trial on charges of murder and arson. While a psychologist works to help Alice face her past, her future depends on the answer to one question: How far did she go for justice?

Review

I really liked what Esposito has done with this novel. This is her first take at writing a psychological thriller, and she did not disappoint. Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She is married to a loving husband, has two adorable kids, and volunteers with her friends at Project Freedom–a project determined to help women leave a life of prostitution and sex-trafficking behind to rejoin society.

The narrative is fairly fast-paced and suspenseful. Alice is a great and likable character. It’s not so easy to figure out if she is a victim or a villain, and Esposito keeps you guessing until the end. I liked how she handled such sensitive topic, and I enjoyed the almost feminist flavor of this book.

I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

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S.O. Esposito began her writing career as a cozy mystery author under her full name, Shannon Esposito. She has four books in the PET PSYCHIC SERIES (misterio press) & two books in the PAWS & POSE SERIES (Severn House). But to keep her muse happy, she’s ventured into darker territory with her suspense debut THE BURNING.

Website

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

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When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…
Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.
Kelly, Brett’s older sister, and business partner is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by a veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.
Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Review

I’m probably one of the few people who did not rave about Jessica Knoll’s debut novel The Luckiest Girl Alive (you can read my review from 2015 here). I decided to give Knoll another try and I’m glad I did.

Knoll doesn’t seem to write warm and fuzzy characters, but her style of writing is pretty unique and gritty. The Favorite Sister starts off a little confusing. With the introduction of several different characters in the very beginning of the book, I found myself having to take notes to keep up with the story. Once you get over the initial introduction, you are led through a series of bickering and backstabbing catty drama that is actually very entertaining. I’m not particularly fond of reality TV, but Knoll did a superb job capturing that world. This is a suspenseful story full of twists. I can’t say I particularly loved the characters, but that is exactly the point. Kudos to Knoll’s novel for being authentic and creative and for keeping you immersed in this twisted drama. I highly recommend it!

I would like to thank Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Review: The Silence of The Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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In The Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? What should Thora make of the rumors saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing children? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore? The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestselling author at the height of her powers.

Although The Silence of The Sea is the 6th book in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, it is definitely a book that stands alone. I can’t remember how I heard about this book, but I can tell you that I searched a few libraries for it and had to wait a few days for my inter-library loan to arrive. I’m glad I requested this book. This is my first novel from Icelandic author Yrsa (pronounced UR-suh) Sigurdardorttir (pronounced SIG-ur-dar-daughter). Wow! That’s a mouth full, so when you get passed all the different spellings and difficult sounding names in the novel what you get is a book with a great start and a great hook. Sigurdardortti’s narrative starts out slow and creepy. She sets a great vibe and atmosphere with her chilling descriptions of Iceland in the winter and an abandoned yacht. This book has a feel that is partially ghostly/paranormal and partially thriller/crime.

The book’s narrative alternates between Thora’s accounts of the events and how she gets involved in the investigation and the description of the events that are happening in the Yacht, told by one of the passengers named AEgir. I really liked this novel. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and towards the end when the mystery is about to be solved, I felt an element of Scooby-Doo with “and I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for….”

I’m definitely recommending this chilling, suspenseful novel. I was very impressed with Sigurdardortti’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.

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Review: The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

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The new novel in this acclaimed series is brilliantly paced, addictively suspenseful—the author’s best yet. Hazel Micallef (played by Susan Sarandon in the recent film of the series’ debut, The Calling) has become one of crime writing’s most memorable detectives. The Night Bell moves between the past and the present in Port Dundas, Ontario, as two mysteries converge. A discovery of the bones of murdered children is made on land that was once a county foster home. Now it’s being developed as a brand new subdivision whose first residents are already railing against broken promises and corruption. But when three of these residents are murdered after the discovery of the children’s bones, frustration turns to terror.While trying to stem the panic and solve two crimes at once, Hazel Micallef finds her memory stirred back to the fall of 1959, when the disappearance of a girl from town was blamed on her adopted brother. Although he is long dead, she begins to see the present case as a chance to clear her brother’s name, something that drives Hazel beyond her own considerable limits and right into the sights of an angry killer.

It seems that lately I have been giving books in a series a try. I used to only read books in a series if they were the first book in the series or if I had read the previous books. Well, The Night Bell doesn’t fall in either one of my categories as it is book number four of the Hazel Micallef series, but I still gave it a try. This novel employs the narrative technique of past and present times. The book starts in 1957 when Hazel was a young girl and introduces the story of the unsolved crime of child, which Hazel’s brother may or not have been a part of. Wolfe does a good job at telling these two parts of the story, the past 50 years ago, and the present times in 2007 and skillfully merges these two parts of the story for the great finale. Overall, this is a great mystery book with wonderful twists and an intricate plot. Does it do a good job as a stand alone novel? I didn’t think so. By book 4 of a series, there were a lot of characters that jumped in the story and that I had no clue who they were. It would’ve worked better if the author had re-introduced some of the characters for the people (like me) unfamiliar with the previous books. My bet is if you read the other books in the series you are going to love this new installment.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

Wow! That’s the word that came out of my mouth after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger. Lately, between grad school, two children, a dog, and a full-time job, long were the days I could finish books in one day, let alone in one sitting. When I picked up this book I had no idea how addicting, thrilling, and exciting this reading would be. I only have praise for Unger. From the very first pages, you are drawn into this intricate web that mixes psychological thriller, crime, and paranormal. I found this story to be very disturbing, but surprising. Every time I thought the story was going in one direction, bam! The author takes you on a completely different route.

Extremely refreshing, chilling, borderline horror (really!), page-turner, can’t-put-it-down sort of book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published June 7, 2016.

5 star

Review: Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller by S.E. Lynes

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When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane…That is until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

This is the story of Shona, a mid-twenties journalist who has to move to the isolated countryside of Aberdeenshire, Scotland for her husband Mikey’s job. When Shona and baby Isla arrive in Aberdeenshire, she realizes that with her husband’s schedule she and baby will have to spend a significant amount of time alone in this idyllic cottage in rural Scotland. The thought of being alone and isolated in her new home makes Shona apprehensive. Melancholic and in dire need of adult social interaction Shona meets Valentina at a local baby nursery. Valentina is a charming Australian with a small baby of similar age to Isla. Valentina and Shona strike an immediate friendship and things seem to be finally working out for Shona in her new life until a web of deceit starts to unravel threatening this “perfect” friendship.

Valentina is the debut novel of author S.E. Lynes and let me start by saying what a strong debut this novel is! I loved how captivating this novel is from the start and it never disappoints. The characters are well developed and complex. I loved the way she told this story from different perspectives, and although part of the plot was a bit predictable, Lyne still managed to finish the book with a surprising finale. 5-stars! I’m definitely recommending it!

I’d like to thank the author and Blackbird Digital Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on July 1, 2016.

5 star

Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

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On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

The book starts with a small plane that falls in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with 11 people on board. Scott, a struggling middle-aged artist, and a four-year-old boy are the only survivors. The crux of the book is finding out the cause of the crash and events that led to the disaster.

I really enjoyed reading this book by Noah Hawley. The first couple of chapters are suspenseful and impossible to put down. There is a great message about the ridiculous power of media covering tragedies. It does slow down a bit as it alternates between the aftermath of the crash and the lives of the passengers before the accident (the fall), but overall a great summer read.

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley is one of those great suspenseful books that you can read in one sitting. A fast-paced, page-turner that keeps you guessing until the end. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2016.

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Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

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Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

I should start by saying that this is not the sort of novel I’d gravitate towards, but the cover of this book had a lot to do with my decision to give this book a try and I don’t regret it a bit.

“because a rumor is like smoke. It will spread, it will seep through closed doors and latched shutters, and in the end the whole town will smell of it.”

This is the story of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman in the small town of Schongau, Bavaria. When some children are found dead, a local midwife is accused of witchcraft and arrested for the murders. Jakob and a local doctor believing in the midwife’s innocence set out to figure out the mystery. I’m not sure why the title of the book is the Hangman’s Daughter. She plays a part in the book but certainly not enough for a title. In any case, this is a very interesting historical mystery. Pötzsch really did a good job researching his family history and that period. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and the descriptions of the town and the people were excellent. It really transported me to that time. 

As for the mystery itself, I feel like many will be able to figure it out half-way through the book. It is still an interesting reading even though some of the torture scenes were rather graphic. Good pick for fans of historical fiction/thriller.

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Review: Trust No One by Paul Cleave

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Trust No One is my first novel by acclaimed writer Paul Cleave. It seems everywhere I look around lately there are more and more novels touching on the subject of Alzheimer’s disease. I’m a nurse, therefore, medical/disease themes attract me quite a bit.

The book also has a great premise. This is the story of Jerry, a crime writer who also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and starts to be accused of murders which we don’t know whether or not he committed. The book is written with alternating chapters, part Jerry’s journal of the past (written in first person) and Jerry’s journal in present day (written in third person! Yep-I know!).

Unfortunately, the novel just did not work for me. It’s a slow start. The narrative is confusing and repetitive, even with the occasional twists and turns.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

2 star