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 #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

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2019 Book #35 – The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

51xfHg4LizLTitle: The Good, the Bad, and the Duke
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 6/4/19
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Pages in book: 364
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Cavensham Heiresses series
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:

A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied, in The Good, The Bad, and The Duke by Janna MacGregor.

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

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 read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #27 – a book you meant to read in 2018. Especially since I’ll need to read the next book in the series within the next month, I was really wishing I had read this book in 2018!

The characters and emotions of this story really draw in the reader. Daphne was very obviously devoted to Paul and it was so touching to see the extent of her feelings for him. And Paul’s character was perfectly dangerous – like the historical “bad boy.” The story line ended up getting a little cliched towards the end for me but overall it was a sweet and romantic story and I enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series this month.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #89 – The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

51hHzWO0HELTitle: The Highlander Who Protected Me
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Date finished: 11/7/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Clan Kendrick series
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:

Lady Ainsley Matthews, heiress and darling of the ton, was expected to make a magnificent match. Instead she’s hiding on a remote Scottish estate, terrified that her vicious former fiancé will use her pregnancy to force her into marriage. One man can help her—Royal Kendrick, son of a distinguished Highland clan. Though a mistake drove them apart long ago, Royal is the only person Ainsley trusts to protect her baby—even if that means agreeing to never see either of them again . . .

Scarred in body and soul by war, Royal suddenly has a purpose—caring for an innocent babe and thereby helping the woman he can’t stop loving. But when Ainsley ultimately returns to Scotland, determined to be a real mother to her child in spite of the risk, there’s only one solution: marriage. And only one likely outcome: surrendering to the desire that’s simmered between them for so long, no matter how dangerous it may be . . .

My rating:  3.25 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.

There were a lot of things that I did like about this book. The plot line was pretty good – there were a lot of emotions embedded into the writing and there was danger and excitement. It definitely kept me interested and made me want to keep reading the story. At the same time though, I just could not catch on with Ainsley’s character. I thought she was selfish for pretty much the entire book and really just so rude to Royal, who is going out of ANY way to protect her and give her whatever the heck she wants. She was also really quick to push or pull on Royal’s emotions to suit whatever her needs were without enough thought to the consequences sometimes. Obviously everything worked out in the end (it is a romance novel) but I was pretty fed up with her mid-way through the book. And oh my gosh I thought the ending was heart-wrenchingly sad. I lie romance novels mostly because I’m guaranteed a warm and fuzzy, everyone’s happy ending. But this book threw me for a bit of a loop. Other than those things though, I thought this was a pretty interesting read. I’d recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #85 – First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett

51AoQV1O4LLTitle: First Earl I See Tonight
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 10/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Debutante Diaries series
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:

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

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 had read a couple other books by this author recently and enjoyed them, and I’m very glad that I ended up reading this one because I really enjoyed it. Fiona’s character was determined and independent, while Gray’s character (even though he started out kind of cold) was warm and romantic. All the characters were wonderful, caring people – you could feel the love jumping off the pages of the book. The characters also were very well developed through the novel. I really liked how much Gray trusted and believed in Fiona. Even when faced with a situation that would confuse many hero characters, Gray stayed true to his feelings and loyal to Fiona. This story had just enough intrigue and danger to add interest, but the love story was really the feature and I thought it was very well done! I really liked Lily’s character also (Fiona’s sister) and I am looking forward to reading her novel also. I would recommend giving this one a read!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #75 – Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

51E+x1+4uSLTitle: Leave No Trace
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 8/28/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 336
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:

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 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 finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish a Mystery Novel” box, since its a mystery/suspense novel.

I read another book by this author last year, Everything You Want Me To Be, and Loved it! So I was excited to see her next release up for review. This book was very different from her first novel but was still a good read. Maya as a character was dark and complicated and I liked learning about her character a little more through each piece of the book. Her relationship with Lucas was intense and the emotion of it really captivates the reader. Lucas himself was also an interesting character. The plot itself was ok, the major plot twist towards the end I didn’t see coming but after that the rest of the plot felt a little off to me for some reason. I did still really like the book though, just not s much as I liked her first novel I think. This was a good book and I’d recommend it!

Link to author website

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