REVIEW: THE CLOSER YOU GET, BY MARY TORJUSSEN

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love—but they’re married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start a new life together. Ruby has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, so she tells him she’s leaving and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby has lost everything. Harry won’t answer her calls, and she’s fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she’s hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen—someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night—and she is going to have to fight for her survival.


Alternating narrators tell the story in The Closer You Get. First, we connect with Ruby’s voice, and then with Emma’s.

Two women trying to move beyond the disappointments in their marriages. Who can they trust? Will they find what they are seeking, or will they realize that there is nothing good to be found in those they turn to?

At first, we believe that Ruby will have her happily-ever-after, but when he seemingly dumps her without a second thought, she almost reconsiders leaving her husband. But he is keeping things from her, and his bullying ways continue, even after she thinks he might have changed.

Emma seems like someone who could be an enemy, but as time goes on, we realize that she has not found what she wanted either. She might be more of a victim than we realize.

Back and forth the story takes us, making us wonder just who these women can trust, and what further secrets will be revealed. Twisty moments that kept us wondering what would happen next led to me awarding this book 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: WHEN I WAS YOU, BY MINKA KENT

After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.

But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.

What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.

From the very first page of When I Was You, I was drawn in and invested in what might happen next. The beginning part of the novel was in the first-person narrative of Brienne, and I kept reading long into the night. When the narrative switched to Niall’s voice, the thriller aspect reared itself big time.

Who are these characters? What is really happening? It is clear that our characters and their stories are not at all what we believed them to be.

To avoid spoilers, I will leave the plot there. Suffice it to say that I was captivated and intrigued. As each narrator took over, alternating over time, I was on the edge of my seat. While each one was believable, I knew who was reliable right away. A five star read.

***

REVIEW: NO PLACE LIKE HOME, BY REBECCA MUDDIMAN

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

Polly, our first person narrator in No Place Like Home, just wants her own house. A home to call her own. Everything she does is directed toward that goal, and just when she thinks she finally has what she wants, everything starts unraveling.

Because Jacob keeps showing up. Then Cathy, the woman at her mother’s care home, stops by uninvited. Why are they all disturbing her and ruining everything?

In the beginning, we feel sorry for Polly, as she tells the story from the past to the present and back again. Her story is a bit confusing at times, suggesting that she might have issues. Is she making everything up? Is there more going on with her?

Then comes an opposing reality as we look more deeply into her story…and into Jacob’s. Maybe nothing is what it seems.

By the end, we are just happy to escape from these disturbing and somewhat unlikeable characters. But the story kept me turning the pages, earning 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE SILENT PATIENT, BY ALEX MICHAELIDES

 

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

 

My Thoughts: In the beginning of The Silent Patient, we are offered excerpts from the diary of Alicia Berenson, the young painter who was charged with killing her husband, after which she went completely silent. Nobody anticipated these actions, so her motivation appeared to be a complete mystery. Further, in all her time at the Grove, a psychiatric unit, therapy had been unsuccessful, since she has refused to speak.

Theo Faber, the psychotherapist determined to bring about her healing, tells the story of his efforts in his first person voice. But there are vague hints along the way that suggest that there is more to his story as well. Theo’s marital difficulties are mixed up with Alicia’s story in some way, and as the journey continued, we came to question everything we had believed to be true. Murky shadows seemingly cloaked the connections between the characters and the timing of events.

To avoid spoilers, suffice it to say that nothing is quite what it seems, and at the end, you might wonder if you have stepped into a Twilight Zone. Definitely an engaging tale that kept me reading until the very end. 5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE STEP MOTHER”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

My feature today is a recent download:  The Stepmother (e-book), by Claire Seeber, a compelling, dark and twisty psychological thriller that will grip fans of Behind Closed Doors, Between You and Me and The Teacher.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue)

Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen.  Soon after their wedding the new queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter.  The queen looked at her baby and saw that her hair was black as ebony, her skin as white as snow and her lips as red as the roses climbing around the window.  The queen liked the pure and pristine snow best, so she named her baby Snow White.

Not long after the baby’s christening, the queen died of a mysterious ailment.

I wonder what that was.

***

56:  I point at the small, framed painting of an old window, surrounded by snow, a red rose growing around the ebony frame.  There is a dash of blood in the snow on the sill.

***

Synopsis:  Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it?

***

I’ve been eager to start reading this one.  I am hoping that everything I hear about this book will keep me engaged.  What do you think?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE MISSING”

married-to-books-bookish-logo

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

My feature today is a recent download:  The Missing, by Caroline Eriksson, a dark psychological thrill ride—with more twists than a labyrinth and more breathless moments than a roller coaster—in which Greta must confront what she’s always kept hidden if she has any hope of untangling the truth.

 

 

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Beginning:  The little motorboat slices through the water with the precision of a knife.  The sun is low in the sky; it’s getting late on this evening at the end of summer.  I’m sitting in the bow, closing my eyes to the water spraying up into my face, fighting against the nausea that churns inside my body and matches the movement of the boat.

***

56%:  I stagger toward the bedroom, realizing I need to lie down.  When I reach the doorway, my eyes fall on the lacy red bra still draped over a chair, and I pause.   I bought the bra when Alex suggested—or rather, told me—that we would be driving to Marhem for a few days.

***

Synopsis:  An ordinary outing takes Greta, Alex, and four-year-old Smilla across Sweden’s mythical Lake Malice to a tiny, isolated island. While father and daughter tramp into the trees, Greta stays behind in the boat, lulled into a reverie by the misty, moody lake…only later to discover that the two haven’t returned. Her frantic search proves futile. They’ve disappeared without a trace.

Greta struggles to understand their eerie vanishing. She desperately needs to call Alex, to be reassured that Smilla is safe, or contact the police. But now her cell phone is missing too. Back at her cottage, she finds it hidden away under the bedsheets. Had she done that? Or had someone else been in the cottage? But who, and why? As Greta struggles to put the pieces together, she fears that her past has come back to torment her, or she’s finally lost her grip on reality…

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading this one?  Does it grab you?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GIRL BEFORE”

married-to-books-bookish-logo

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is an e-ARC from NetGalley with a release date of 1/24/17.  The Girl Before, by J. P. Delaney, is an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

 

 

 

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Beginning:  (THEN:  EMMA)

It’s a lovely little flat, the agent says with what could almost pass for genuine enthusiasm.  Close to the amenities.  And there’s that private bit of roof.  That could become a sun terrace, subject of course to the landlord’s consent.

Nice, Simon agrees, trying not to catch my eye.

***

56%:  (NOW:  JANE)

“I have to go away.”

“So soon?”  It’s only been a few weeks since Edward moved in.  We’ve been happy together.  I know it in my heart, but I also know it from the metrics, which Edward has been doing along with me.

***

Synopsis:  Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

***

What do you think?  Do these lines grip you, draw you in?  Would you keep reading?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GIRL YOU LOST”

BOOKISH FRIDAY LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s featured book is a recent download from an author I enjoy:  The Girl You Lost, by Kathryn Croft.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue)

It had been easy to get him alone.  He’d played right into her hands and all she’d had to do was flash a smile at him.  Laugh at his jokes.  Pretend to be interested in his words.

But now they were in his flat, in a part of town she barely knew, and if she wasn’t careful, her control would slip away.

***

56:  Grace is already in the kitchen when I go downstairs, sitting at the table, and I smell toast before I see that she has made breakfast.

‘I hope it’s okay?’ she says, biting her lip. ‘Matt said I could help myself.  I’ve made you some tea, too.’

***

Synopsis:  Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them.

Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her?

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her baby and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts.

Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory.

Simone lost her baby. Will she lose her life trying to find her?

***

What do you think?  Have you read this one?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN, BY WENDY WALKER

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Set in picture perfect Fairview, Connecticut, All is Not Forgotten takes the reader into the troubled minds of its characters through the perspective of our omniscient narrator. A narrator whose identity is not revealed for a while.

Specific events transpired one night when teenagers partied, with drugs and alcohol flowing, and with the subsequent drama that comes from inebriated teens.

One young woman, Jenny Kramer, walked off into the woods, upset over the behavior of her date, and there she was brutally raped. The masked perpetrator left a significant carved mark on her lower back.

Our story takes us into the aftermath, especially focusing on the controversial drug given to Jenny afterwards, a drug purported to erase her memory of the event.

What we learn in the rest of the story is how erasing memories does not lead to healing, and actually trying to retrieve the facts of what happened can lead to emotional memory…and recovery.

Watching the psychiatrist treat various patients, both in Fairview and in a nearby prison, and also as he offers support and therapy to the Kramer family, we begin to see how the pieces of a very strange puzzle are beginning to coalesce. What is the purpose behind some of Dr. Forester’s treatment modalities? How is he able to probe and extract just what he needs for their treatments, and also for his own purposes? Is he helping or harming?

Tom and Charlotte Kramer, Jenny’s parents, have their own issues, and as the trauma widens the fault lines in the family unit, their dark secrets are clamoring to be revealed.

Several other patients and their stories come out via the omniscient narrator, and their purpose unfolds over time, as they add just what we need to fully understand what has transpired.

The writing style was uncomfortable at first, but gradually the story flowed and came together with just what we needed to know at the time we needed to know it. The non-linear style of storytelling added to the suspense and to my enjoyment. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came to me from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE BEAUTY OF THE END, BY DEBBIE HOWELLS

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As Noah Calaway tries to sort out his life in the Devon cottage left to him by his Aunt Delilah, his memories carry him back in time, to days long ago when he fell in love with a goddess.

That is how he saw April Moon, whom he met in school in Musgrove.

Nowadays, though, he is trying to write, having given up his law practice, but still takes on occasional cases. So when a call from an old friend, Will Farrington, brings disturbing news, some of those old memories intrude into his current reality, and he is catapulted back in time.

Will’s phone call informed him that April had taken an overdose, but before that happened, her stepfather, Norton, had been murdered. And the police think she did it.

Naturally, Noah’s protective urges come into play and he heads off to Tonbridge, to the hospital where she is in a coma.

The Beauty of the End reeled me in from the first pages, as it swept back and forth in time, from the 1990s, when Noah first met Will, and also when he first became enthralled by the beautiful April, to the present. Could anything be more alluring than this redheaded girl who captivated his heart and kept him spellbound through most of his life? There had even been a time when they were living together, planning to marry. But something happened to change the trajectory of their lives together. Were the secrets and the hidden darkness holding April as captive as she held Noah? Could something devastating from her past have inserted itself into their lives and derailed their futures?

The story unfolds from Noah’s first person perspective, but as other characters told their stories, a fuller picture began to emerge. One of the voices belonged to a fifteen year old girl named Ella, whose connection to the other characters we would eventually realize.

Had Noah been unable to see beyond the beauty of April’s looks and the self she chose to show him? Did she keep her hidden thoughts and secrets from him to protect him, or to protect his illusion of her? Why did Will set out to destroy both April and Noah? What were his fatal secrets and flaws?

Solving the mystery of what happened to April in the present, as well as the past, would keep me guessing until the very end. Until finally, we see the choices she had to make, and why she made them. A complex story that I could not put down, although the complexity sometimes led to confusion and a feeling of not being able to sort the facts from the manipulations. Therefore, 4 stars.