5 star reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller

No Exit by Taylor Adams

5/5 stars

College sophomore, Darby Thorne, planned to spend Christmas alone at UC-Boulder until she got a call from her sister that their mother was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. She tried to beat a blizzard home, but wound up having to stop at a rest stop for the night because the roads were impassable. There were two young men and an older couple already at the rest stop. Darby was trying to get a cell signal in the parking lot to tell her family where she was and that she would not make it home that night, when she saw something in the back of a van in the parking lot. A van that must belong to one of the people in the rest stop.

This book was INTENSE. This book set the new bar for thrillers.

I had actually thought I needed a break from thrillers because they were getting predictable and not holding my interest. I had heard great things about this one and had a few days before my next buddy read began when the box from Baker & Taylor came in at work, so I quickly cataloged it and brought it home. And stayed up until 2:30am reading it!!

If you like thrillers that are intense with a lot of action and reliable, strong, female leads, then read No Exit.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller

Somebody I Used to Know by David Bell

4/5 stars

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From the publisher:

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She’s the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.

Convinced there’s a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning…and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.

My Review:

When Lori from GetRedPR emailed me about this book, I instantly knew that I wanted to read it.  First of all, I love David Bell’s writing.  Secondly, the premise of the story had me intrigued – was it the same woman?  Two different women?  Why do they look alike?  Why did she have Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket?
This book really kept me going.  There are a lot of twists and turns and things I did not see coming.
The story is told from Nick’s point of view and really lets the reader into the mind of this very normal, relatable, real-seeming, recently divorced man with a stepson.  Nick himself has had issues with the police with regard to the stepson.  Now that this woman he saw in the grocery store is dead, he becomes a suspect for the police.  Nick knows he did not kill her and feels a connection to her since she looks like his college girlfriend who he never got over and he wants to find out why she was looking for him.
David Bell’s writing is so simple and easy to read.  There is not a lot of fluff and it doesn’t get bogged down in long descriptions or explanations, the writing just flows and makes it easy to keep reading and stay up well past a reasonable hour to find out what the heck is going on and you will do that with this book!
Book reviews, Can't Wait Wednesday

I Can’t Wait for…Watching You by Lisa Jewell #CWW #WOW

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a meme hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings  to spotlight upcoming releases we are excited about that we have yet to read.

I am really excited about the upcoming release of Watching You by Lisa Jewell.  I loved The Girls in the Garden, I Found You and The House We Grew Up In.  Lisa Jewell’s writing style is very familiar, as though you are chatting with an old friend and she gives you details and insights into her characters that make them seem so real.  I actually have this book in my queue in Netgalley and plan to read it soon.  But it’s one of those things where I know that once I read it, it will be done and I want to savor the anticipation at least a little bit.

Watching You will be released on December 26, 2018 – just in time for that wondrous week between Christmas and New Year’s where time seems to stand still and the world is peaceful and it’s perfect to lay in bed and read!

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Summary:

The instant New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the “riveting thriller” (PopSugarThen She Was Gone delivers another suspenseful page-turner about a shocking murder in a picturesque and well-to-do English town, perfect “for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Luckiest Girl Alive” (Library Journal).

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant “bone-chilling suspense” (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something. Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As “Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace” (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page.

Book reviews, thriller

I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan

3/5 stars

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In 1996, two ten year old boys went missing and were found – one dead, one near dead – in a shallow grave.  The detective was in over his head and a mentally impaired man was an easy target to take the blame for the murders.

Twenty years later, a friend of the boys starts a podcast to investigate what really happened after an investigative journalist brings up suspicion that the mentally impaired man did not commit the murders.

This book is told from three perspectives: Cody Swift, a friend of the murdered boys who has started the podcast to investigate what really happened; Jessy Paige, who was the mother of one of the boys and a prostitute at the time of their murders, now living a totally different lifestyle with a husband and teen daughter; and John Fletcher who was the detective on the original case and is now investigating a body found in the same area the boys were found.

I found this book extremely difficult to follow.  I did have a digital ARC, so it is possible that this was addressed in the published copy, but John Fletcher’s parts would go back and forth between current day and 1996 and it would take me a bit to figure out what time period they were talking about.  It would have been helpful if there had been some indication of what time period each section of the story was in, like maybe a 1996 or a Current Day separating the sections.

I thought it was interesting, however, how John Fletcher’s parts in the story were like a True Crime television series and Cody Swifts were like a transcript of a podcast.  The ending was a big surprise and a real WOW moment.

I would have given this book 2 stars because it was difficult to follow and it didn’t pull me in and make me want to keep reading.  BUT the ending was really good, so I gave it 3 stars.

I received my review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, thriller

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

4.5/5 stars

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From the Publisher:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

My Review:

4/5 stars

I loved this book and read it in one day–I don’t remember the last time I did that!

This book was like The Great Alone meets Magic Hour (both by Kristin Hannah) with a little Child Finder by Rene Denfeld.

Lucas and Josiah Blackthorne disappeared from society ten years ago and were assumed dead.  Then Lucas is caught robbing a store.  He is violent and nonverbal, so he is sent to a psychiatric facility where he meets Maya who is a speech therapist, wrestling with her own demons.

 

Beautiful setting of the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, a strong female lead character, a thrilling escape, a captivating mysteray and a little romance…this book has everything.  This book also explores issues of mental health in our society and how one action can have a snowball effect and affect people for decades.  I also felt that the author made a statement about power and people who think differently or want different things than the norm.  I thought these issues were well thought out and presented and encouraged deeper thought for the reader.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, thriller

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

4/5 stars

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From the Publisher:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

My Review:

The Last Time I Lied was an unpredictable mystery.  I could not figure out who did it.  The main character, Emma Davis, is an artist.  She was the last person to see the girls that went missing and had been their friend.  When the summer camp re-opens, she is asked to be the art teacher.  She goes back to the camp 15 years later to try to figure out what happened to them.  Someone puts birds in her room and she knows someone is spying on her, but she doesn’t who.  It’s very creepy with a lot of twists and turns.

It was told in alternating narratives from 15 years ago (when the girls went missing) to now.  The pacing was very fast paced.  My daughter read it in 2 days.  It took me a bit longer because I had a lot going on, but we both enjoyed it immensely.

I would like to thank Netgalley for my copy.

4 star reviews, 5 star reviews, Book reviews, thriller

The Banker’s Wife by Christina Alger

4/5 starsIMG_1714

Strong female characters, high profile crimes, fast paced thriller

Annabel Lerner is devastated when she finds out that her husband Matthew, an employee of Swiss United, has been killed in a plane crash. As she works through her grief, some things come up and Annabel becomes convinced that powerful people in the financial world wanted him dead.

Marina Tourneau, a journalist, is engaged to marry Grant. Grant is from a wealthy, well-connect family and his father is running for President.  When Marina’s friend, Duncan, is found dead, Marina takes over his story about Swiss United.  She uncovers shocking evidence that some of the most powerful and prominent people in the world could be up to some pretty bad things. Publishing the “story of a lifetime” would be very risky.

The book switches back and forth between Annabel and Marina, both of characters were well developed and reliable.  I have not read many books about the financial world and I was not sure that I would like this one, but I did find it interesting and I was not bored.  The premise – the financial world – is different from other thrillers and I appreciated that.

I would recommend this book to anyone who liked The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian.

I want to thank Putnam Books for my free copy in exchange for my honest review.