REVIEW: THE LAST GOOD GIRL, BY ALLISON LEOTTA

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It was a Friday night in March 2015 when Emily Shapiro went to Lucky’s Bar, trying to move beyond events that began for her the previous September. But as she left the bar that night, a Delta Psi fraternity member, Dylan Highsmith, confronted her and then chased her down the street.

Later, when she was reported missing, video coverage showed him chasing her…and then there was no further sign of her. A missing Tower University freshman was a big deal, especially as her father, Barney Shapiro, was the university president.

Anna Curtis, a federal prosecutor, has been staying on a Detroit urban farm with old friend/new lover Cooper Bolden, still torn about her broken relationship with Jack, the Homicide Chief at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D. C. She is pulled into the investigation, and is working alongside her friend, FBI agent Sam Randazzo. Just as they are getting started, Jack joins them, and they begin coordinating their efforts with his task force on college sexual assaults.

The Last Good Girl takes the reader into the daily pursuit for the missing girl, and we follow their efforts to break behind the secretive walls of the popular fraternity, protected by all the Old Boys’ networks, including local law enforcement. It seems that Dylan’s father is a politician and big contributor to the university.

Alternating narratives reveal to the reader Emily’s video log, as it details how Dylan drugged and raped her, how she tried to get justice, and how she met with resistance along the way. Her frustration and sense of powerlessness grew with each new post.

I also loved how the author brought the reader right into the personal world of the characters, spotlighting their thoughts, their feelings, and their childhoods. I loved having a sense of who they were as people.

As I quickly turned the pages of this intense thriller, I was captivated throughout; I didn’t see the final revelation coming, but then it all made sense. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

REVIEW: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, BY B. A. PARIS

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When a couple seems as perfect as Jack and Grace Angel, it is inevitable that there are secrets, and that more is going on with them.

Grace met Jack just a few months before they married, and she was impressed with how he expressed love and caring for her sister Millie, who has Down Syndrome and lives in a facility. He is a brilliant attorney, defending battered women, who has never lost a case. Grace becomes the perfect homemaker who gave up her job right after the marriage.

It doesn’t take long for the creep factor to enter this story, narrated by Grace, and I was worried and afraid for her from the first moments after their wedding.

Alternating between the past and the present, Behind Closed Doors, set in England, is a frightening tale that swept back and forth in time, the intensity increasing with every page.

Why does Grace never leave the house without Jack accompanying her? Is their inseparability a good thing or a sign of something dark? If Grace is under Jack’s spell, how can she manage to grasp control of her own fate and protect her sister? Will she finally be able to come out of the shadows and find happiness at last, and what must she do to accomplish that task?

A riveting tale that had me biting my nails throughout, this suspense novel earned:

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE BEAUTY OF THE END”

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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 better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s featured book is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  The Beauty of the End, by Debbie Howells.

 

 

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Beginning:  I want to live forever...We were standing on top of Reynard’s Hill, where the ring of trees seemed to reach up, their branches tangling with the sky; where you could breathe, April said, as though air alone was not enough for her.

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56:  (Ella) – We weave the first strands of friendship like a spider’s web.  For a therapist, she’s cool.  But then I get caught.

***

Synopsis:  “I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.

***

What do you think?  Do the excerpts draw you in?  Do you want to keep reading?

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REVIEW: INK AND BONE, BY LISA UNGER

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A little girl lost on a hiking trail, a father and son shot, and a deep sadness that turns the mother into someone not really there. Someone wounded. Thus begins our story.

The man and boy would recover, but the memories of what happened and the guilt the father feels because he was on his phone when the abductors grabbed Abbey…those feelings and thoughts would always haunt him.

Wolf and Merri Gleason are broken. But Merri has not given up, and travels back to The Hollows, in upstate New York, to hire a P.I. named Jones Cooper, a man who has been known to solve cases with the help of a local psychic, Eloise Montgomery.

Finley, Eloise’s granddaughter, is a tough looking young woman with spiky hair and lots of tattoos. Her body was a living canvas of ink and bone. Like her grandmother, though, she has the gift. She hears and sees things that others do not. Sometimes it is hard for her to distinguish between the real and unreal. The sounds she hears, like the “squeak-clink” that is so repetitive, often are trying to tell her something. Could what she hears and sees have something to do with Abbey Gleason’s disappearance, or perhaps the other missing girls, like Eliza Fitzpatrick and so many more? She has agreed to work with Jones Cooper to try to find little Abbey.

Ink and Bone was a surreal story that took the reader into the world of The Whispers and The Others, showing us what Finley is seeing and hearing, and following her down the various pathways into the woods and mines, hoping to find the answers. Could those who have taken the children be the unseen individuals who live off the grid, but who quietly work among the other residents, unnoticed because they are so broken and flawed?

Would there be a happy ending for any of the families? Could Finley and Jones fight their way through all the impossible barriers to bring some children home? Could the lost souls that have already gone ahead find peace at last? A riveting story that felt haunting and eerie, even as I kept rapidly turning pages, was a tale with no happy ending; it, however, was one in which I couldn’t guess what would ultimately happen until the very end. 5 stars.

***An e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE ORPHAN CHOIR”

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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 better way to spend a Friday!

Sophie Hannah has brought many delightful books to me library, so I’m thrilled to showcase The Orphan Choir, a darkly suspenseful investigation of obsession, loss, and the malevolent forces that threaten to break apart a loving family.

 

 

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Beginning:  It’s quarter to midnight.  I’m standing in the rain outside my next-door neighbor’s house, gripping his rusted railings with cold, wet hands, staring down through them at the misshapen and perilously narrow stone steps leading to his converted basement, from which noise is blaring.  It’s my least favorite song in the world:  Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

***

56:  Joseph has always been a brilliant sleeper: seven thirty at night until seven in the morning, however light, dark, loud, or quiet his surroundings.  Other mothers think I’m lying when I say this, but it’s true:  he has slept all night every night since he was four weeks old.

***

Synopsis:  A MOTHER WITH AN EMPTY NEST IS BEING HAUNTED BY A GHOSTLY CHILDREN’S CHOIR. ARE THEY GIVING HER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT ONLY SHE CAN HEAR, OR ARE THEIR MOTIVES MORE SINISTER?

Louise Beeston is being haunted.

Louise has no reason left to stay in the city. She can’t see her son, Joseph, who is away at boarding school, where he performs in a prestigious boys’ choir. Her troublesome neighbor has begun blasting choral music at all hours of the night—and to make matters worse, she’s the only one who can hear it.

Hoping to find some peace, Louise convinces her husband, Stuart, to buy them a country house in an idyllic, sun-dappled gated community called Swallowfield. But it seems that the haunting melodies of the choir have followed her there. Could it be that her city neighbor has trailed her to Swallowfield, just to play an elaborate, malicious prank? Is there really a ghostly chorus playing outside her door? And why won’t they stop? Growing desperate, she begins to worry about her mental health.

Against the pleas and growing disquiet of her husband, Louise starts to suspect that this sinister choir is not only real but a warning. But of what? And how can it be, when no one else can hear it?

***

What do you think?  Would you grab this one off your shelf?  Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAYS: “I LET YOU GO”

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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 better way to spend a Friday!

My pick today is a recent download, and a book I hope to devour soon:  I Let You Go, by Claire Mackintosh, “a finely crafted novel with a killer twist.”

 

 

 

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Beginnings:  (Prologue)

The wind flicks wet hair across her face, and she screws up her eyes against the rain.  Weather like this makes everyone hurry, scurrying past on slippery pavements with chins buried into collars.  Passing cars send spray over their shoes, the noise from the traffic making it impossible for her to hear more than a few words of the chattering update that began the moment the school gates opened.

***

56:  “Come on!”  Ray bellowed up the stairs to Tom and Lucy, looking at his watch for the fifth time in as many minutes.  “We’re going to be late!”

***

Synopsis:  On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
 
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it . . . a stellar achievement.”

***

I can’t wait to read this one, having heard so many good things about it.  Just what I need:  another thriller.  What do you think?

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REVIEW: THE OBSESSION, BY NORA ROBERTS

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Eleven-year-old Naomi Bowes woke during a hot night in her West Virginia home…and when she heard a noise, she got up. She followed her father into the woods, curious. What she found in the root cellar after he came back up and left….would change her life forever.

Rescuing the young woman named Ashley and reporting her father’s crimes to the police could have haunted her forever. But she decided not to be the daughter of serial killer Thomas Bowes for the rest of her life. Taken in by her maternal uncle Seth and his partner Harry, along with her mother and brother Mason, she had a good life as Naomi Carson, moving from Washington, D.C. to New York…and then, alone, all around the country, staying ahead of the news reports and gossip. Until finally she landed in Sunrise Cove, Washington, where she optimistically believed she had outrun her ghosts.

I really loved the new life Naomi was creating in Sunrise Cove, renovating a big old mansion and gradually becoming a part of the community. The descriptions of the home interiors as they slowly came together, along with her vision of life on the water, made me love how a grim story could turn into moments of beauty. Naomi’s photography career also kept me engaged, as she showed the reader what she saw through her lens, and how she brought life and creativity into each shot.

Meeting Xander Keaton, the man who owned a garage in town, who was someone so much more than he appeared on the surface…that event was the final straw that turned her life of beauty into one that included the possibility of love.

But suddenly, something is happening all around the small, lovely town. Girls are going missing and turning up dead…and not far from Naomi’s haven. Who, if anyone, is targeting her and dumping bodies in places that are familiar to her? What, if anything, do the photos on Naomi’s website mean to the killer?

When her FBI agent brother Mason comes to town, the pieces begin to fall into place. Will they finally unmask and capture the killer? Who will it turn out to be?

The Obsession was a page-turning thriller that was also so much more. Totally engaging. 5 stars.

REVIEW: NO ONE KNOWS, BY J. T. ELLISON

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They were true soul mates, or so they believed. Childhood best friends, then sweethearts, and finally, husband and wife: They were Aubrey Trenton and Joshua Hamilton, forever connected.

Then their bond was severed by his disappearance one night, when the two were attending pre-wedding parties for friends in a local hotel.

Set in Nashville, the story told in No One Knows weaves together the history of these two, both before his disappearance and after. Her parents died when she was young, and she grew up mostly in foster care. He was emotionally smothered by his controlling mother, Daisy, but otherwise, his life seemed more normal. In the early years of their marriage, he was in medical school and then he was a young doctor. Their future had seemed wide open.

Alternate narratives spanned the Before years and continued for a five year period After…on the face of things, it was almost impossible to see anything but an unfortunate series of tragic events that led to that fateful night. But before the story ends, we come to learn a lot more. Stunned by how events ultimately played out, I could not stop turning pages, never knowing what would happen next. What sudden turn might change everything about what I thought I knew, and make it impossible to know who was more unreliable as a narrator: Josh or Aubrey? Or both.

Like a kaleidoscope that distorts events, revealing something different every time you turn it, the world we see through the eyes of Josh and Aubrey was a crazy one indeed. A book that I will not soon forget. 5 stars.

*** I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH NO PAST, BY KATHRYN CROFT

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Leah Mills lives a quiet life in London, working as a librarian, and obsessed with her routines. Going home to her sparse flat lined with books, she seemingly hides from the world. Friends and social outlets are nonexistent, aside from her work.

Then there is her online world. Her laptop takes her away from her flat existence…and she feels safe. Until she starts getting the strange e-mails.

But why is Leah hiding? What is the mysterious event that transpired fourteen years earlier that changed everything for her? And why is someone now sending her threatening missives? Why is her mother, who lives in Watford, ashamed of her?

We meet characters from her past, when the story carries us back there, like her friend Imogen and her boyfriend Corey, and Adam, who is Leah’s boyfriend. They are like a little posse, doing everything together. And Adam is the leader. Why is he obsessed with one of their teachers?

Our story goes back and forth through time, piecing out the answers to these questions, a little bit at a time, until we think we have it figured out. And then we realize that there is so much more to the story.

As I read The Girl with No Past, with its nail-biting suspense, I was glued to the pages, afraid to set the book down. With each new person that Leah slowly lets into her life, I am afraid for her. For who can she trust? I will not forget this story, which I am giving 5 stars.

WAITING ON “THE PASSENGER”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we gather around the blogosphere and search out the upcoming book releases, sharing our thoughts and blurbs.  Today, I am eager to feature an upcoming release from a soon-to-be favorite author.  I love spotlighting eagerly anticipated books!  The Passenger, by Lisa Lutz, will be released on March 1, 2016.

 

 

 

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Blurb:  From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

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I am very excited about this one!  What are you sharing today?  Let’s share….

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