2019 Book #86 – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

41xn3v0LgqL.jpgTitle: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Date finished: 11/4/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

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My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read a couple of this author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, but this one really blew me out of the water. The twists and turns were outstanding, even the ones I saw coming and especially the ones that I didn’t. All of them really were “gasp-worthy,” I thought this was a really well done mystery. I also thought the book was really well paced. The chapters were short so it felt like the story was flying by, though there were a couple areas where I found it a little dry. Many of the characters were flawed but they were supposed to be. Henry’s character especially was intense and really mysterious – even after finishing the book I’m not sure that I trust how he portrayed himself in the chapters he narrated. Overall this was a really interesting story that absorbs the reader and keeps them engaged even after the book has ended. I really enjoyed it and I’d definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #79 – The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

51+pKU74twLTitle: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Date finished: 10/19/19
Genre: Gothic romance, suspense, magic stuff
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a spell goes wrong” box since Lydia does a spell that goes wrong, even if she doesn’t mean to. I’m also reading this book for my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #1 – a book you bought (requested) for the cover. Since I’m using this checklist to check off some of my previously requested NetGalley titles, I hadn’t bought any of them but so I changed bought to request. And I had originally requested this book in large part based on the cover – I think it’s so pretty and intriguing.

Even though I mostly requested based on the cover for this book. I also thought the story line sounded really interesting too. Plus I’m trying to read as many spooky books as possible for this month so it was a perfect fit for me to read this one. I’m glad I got to read it too – I really liked it. There were definitely a lot of pieces of the book that I didn’t care for but overall I really liked it! Lydia as a character had a lot of layers but she was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And I loved the whole journey to her discovering she was a witch and her long dead ancestor and what not but I wished that it had happened a little earlier in the book. This was definitely a good read for October – it was super spooky and creepy. I thought it was really captivating, I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. At the same time the pacing was a little slow for me. Overall I really liked the book but it wasn’t my favorite. Great read for October though!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #60 – The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

51QgvPrXOnL._SY346_Title: The Arrangement
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 8/13/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start and finish 2 ARC’s between August 1st and August 30th” box since I’ve done that at this point!

I had read another book by this author, The Party, and enjoyed it a good amount. This next book by her was described as “a Pretty Woman tale that turns toxic and deadly” and that tag line really grabbed my interest. This book turned out to be really good – I both liked and hated how dark and twisted it was. Natalie was a deeply disturbed young woman but the other POV, her sugar-daddy Gabe, wasn’t much better. The plot twist at the end of the book was a tad predictable but was still done really well and everything came to a satisfying ending. I love how the book started with Nat saying she had killed someone to really ramp up the tension right from the beginning and draw in the reader. The book overall was a quick and pretty easy read – the chapters flew by. Everyone was just so deeply damaged in this book, it made it a little depressing with how sad I felt for each of the characters involved. Overall I liked the book though and I definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #59 – The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

514ieZC9mqLTitle: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 8/11/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley and Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 ARC set in Summer ” box since this book takes place in the July to early September time frame.

There was a good amount of buzz going on about this book and I really wanted the chance to read it. I had read another book by this author last year (The Death of Mrs. Westaway) and didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it enough and I hear so many good things about this author that I wanted to give another book a shot. I’m glad I did because I really ended up liking this book. It started out a little slow and I had to struggle a bit through the first part of the book. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up liking this one either but once the action picked up towards the latter half of the book I didn’t want to put it down. There was a good build up of tension in the story and I thought it was appropriately creepy for what it was trying to accomplish. And the plot twists, holy bananas. I never saw it coming! There are only a handful of books out there that I’ve gasped literally out loud when getting to the plot twists and this book was one of them. If I hadn’t felt quite the struggle I did in the first half of the book I would’ve given the book higher stars rating. Also I felt like there were some things left unresolved at the end – like there was a mention of Jack also hiding secrets but I don’t remember them being revealed. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first half of the book but the second half definitely made it worth it! I would recommend this one, I ended up really enjoying it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #43 – The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

41BKiHPdKILTitle: The Starter Wife
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 7/11/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 307
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.
 
Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.

 

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book sounded very interesting so I was glad to be able to read it. I haven’t read anything by this author before but the premise behind the book sounded like a couple of other thrillers I’ve read and enjoyed. This book had some crazy awesome plot twists and turns that rocked my socks. The main character was definitely flawed and seeing most of the book from her point of view really delves the reader into the extent of her psyche. There were some “holes” that I didn’t think ended up making the most sense but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. The book was kind of sad but it was really good, some of the plot twists really shocked me. The plot line kept me on the edge of my seat, I didn’t want to put it down.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #41 – Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

418+xum57JLTitle: Good Girl, Bad Girl
Author: Michael Robotham
Date finished: 7/7/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Pages in book: 369
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The description of this book really grabbed at me and I haven’t read many thrillers lately but I’m glad I read this one! This book had such a good plot, I love all of the twists and turns. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable for me but I still loved them. And I loved getting to know Evie’s character, as warped as it is. Both her and Cyrus’s characters were so well-developed and nuanced and so deeply wounded – I thought the author did a fantastic job of peeling back the characters layer by layer. And I thought the author also did a great job pairing these two characters, since Cyrus was the perfect point of view to offset Evie’s combustible but endearing character. I think that may have been part of my problem though, is that I felt so invested in Evie’s character that I was so disappointed that we don’t find out certain pieces of her story by the end of the book. I realized that (1) this may be part of a series and (2) even if it isn’t – the ending was in keeping with what Evie would have wanted (open-ended) but I still couldn’t help feeling frustration! Overall this was a pretty sad story but I’d still definitely recommend it – I thought it was great!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #31 – The Suspect by Fiona Barton

51tMFK0fCDL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Suspect
Author: Fiona Barton
Date finished: 5/31/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have heard a lot about this author so I was excited to try reading this new release. I didn’t end up loving this one – the plot was interesting but the book felt lengthy to me and some parts felt pretty dry. The author does do a great job of really transporting the reader – I could feel the heat and the grit of Bangkok and I felt the desperation, fear, and myriad of other emotions of the various characters of the story. The ending left things just a tad unresolved, which fit in with the characters and the story line I think but I don’t usually love endings like that. I tend to prefer endings that are wrapped up nice and neatly with a little bow. Overall though I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t a favorite. I am scheduled to read more by this author though and I’ve heard great things about her books. I’d recommend giving this one a try but be prepared that it can be slow in places.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page