2019 Book #96 – The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

513hfhxyrMLTitle: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Date finished: 12/21/19
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

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’ve heard so much buzz about this author with their recent books so I was excited to see their new release come up on BookBrowse. I don’t know if it was just timing but this book was really hard for me to get started with. There’s always so much to do get ready for Christmas and between that and my work schedule I was having a lot of trouble carving out time to read. Once I got into the story though, I really enjoyed the plot line. The parallel between the two different time periods was really interesting and added to the overall story plot. I really liked Carly’s character and her little menagerie of friends she collected upon her arrival into Fell. I thought the author did a great job of really dragging the reader down into that spiral of obsession that happens when you become completely enveloped in a mystery. Vivian’s spiral into obsession was really well written and really jumped off the page. Comparatively, some of the other emotions of the story fell a little flat to me. I’m not sure if it’s because I had to keep jumping in and out of the story but some of the emotions weren’t as lively as I thought they could have been. Overall the creepy/horror factor was definitely there though and I ended up really enjoying the story. I would recommend reading this one, it was an exciting read and really interesting story.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #90 & #93 – Don’t Close Your Eyes and Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig

Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes & Don’t Breathe a Word
Author: Christie Craig
Date finished: 11/19/19 & 12/1/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 28, 2018 & November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 480 & 424
Stand alone or series: #1 and #2 in the Texas Justice series
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:

Don’t Close Your Eyes: 
Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involvedand what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….
Mark has seen enoughtoo muchto assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?
Don’t Breathe A Word: 
Police detective Juan Acosta doesn’t only carry scars on the outside. He’s filled with guilt and anger ever since his undercover job led to the murder of those he loved the most. Now he’s living for one thing: revenge. That is, until Juan meets his beautiful new neighbor.
Vicki Holloway prides herself on being capable and independent, but her life is turned upside down when her sister Sara is killed by an abusive ex. Fearing for the safety of her niece, Vicki and the little girl go into hiding…resurfacing in Texas with new identities.
Juan finds his once-frozen heart thawing around Vicki, but he knows she’s hiding something. Juan needs answers, but Vicki isn’t talking. She has to keep her secrets if she wants to keep Bell safe, which means resisting her growing feelings for the sexy, scarred man next door. But when Juan’s quest for justice brings danger to her door, divulging the truth might be the only thing that keeps her alive.

 

My rating:  1.75 & 3.0  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 requested these because the plots sounded really interesting and I liked the availability of getting them both together. I definitely liked the second novel better. So going in order, the first book I didn’t love. For a book written in 2018 it seemed like it was written in 1990 – it felt a little outdated. The heroine has sex with the hero on the first date and then follows up with that by calling herself a slut multiple times, which I was just not ok with. She also makes some pretty  And the hero was a pretty intense alcoholic and just could not get his stuff together. Plus the mystery I found to be kind of flat, they were making a big deal out of it but then it turned out to not be that much of a thing. Although I was interested in reading until the end to find out what happened, I found the book to be dry and there were some really problematic pieces to it. Overall I did not really enjoy this one too much.

The second book I liked a lot better. The romance development between the characters felt a little rushed / underdeveloped but I liked the mystery plot line a lot better. I still felt like it was a little outdated for how recently it was published but there wasn’t as much sex-shaming as there was in the first book. The villain in this book was intensely villainous – he was a bad freaking dude and was definitely scary. The hero and heroine both had areas that I thought they could have been developed further. The climactic scene also went by really quickly – I thought it could have been drawn out a bit more. Overall though I liked this one better than the first in the series and I wanted to keep reading it.

Link to author website

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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 #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

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2019 Book #29 – Next Girl to Die by Dea Poirier

41OqgV4QuzL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Next Girl to Die
Author: Dea Poirier
Date finished: 5/18/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense, mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Calderwood Cases 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:

Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.

It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.

Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.

When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.

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.

I think I ended up requesting this book mostly based on the cover (which looks great). I don’t usually love novels about a cop who is working to solve a crime, particularly one that is looking to set up for a series all about that same cop. So I did like this book and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite right for me – I’m just not interested in this particular style of novel. Claire as a character wasn’t my favorite either, she was a bit too gloomy for me. There were definitely some good parts to the novel and also there were a few very good plot twists. The ending felt pretty underwhelming for me, there weren’t any great twists at the end or anything too exciting. I still liked the book though and thought it was a good read, I think that the genre it’s in just isn’t for me. If you liked series like Rizzoli & Isles or other series about a cop who solves crimes, I’d check this one out!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #7 – Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

51xmnzcmral._sx328_bo1,204,203,200_Title: Forget You Know Me
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 1/27/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 332
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:

The secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit―in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side―but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all.

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.

I had read a couple of this author’s previous novels (Not That I Could Tell and Almost Missed You) in the last couple years and really enjoyed them. This novel I still did enjoy but just not quite as much as the previous two I’ve read. This one was just so sad to me, that a marriage could fail that intensely. In both marriages and friendships it is easy for two people to grow apart. Molly’s character seemed so hopeless to me though – I almost wanted Molly to end up with Rick in the end just to have some semblance of happiness. The story was still very interesting and made me think about the characters and their motivations. The plot stayed with me even when I was done reading it. There was a lot of complex relationships and situations going on within the plot. I really liked the final plot twist too – I didn’t see it coming at all! This was a good read and I’d recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #95 – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date finished: 12/17/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same. 

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants. 

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I purchased this book from a discount book store in Williamsburg, VA while I was on vacation a couple months ago. I have been having trouble keeping up with my review schedule (I’m chafing against how constrained I’ve been in my reading schedule the past few years) so I decided to pick this up and read it! 

I haven’t been super thrilled with some of this author’s other recent releases. It started to feel like there was a “plot formula” that was being followed. And while this book’s plot does still feel a bit similar to those I’ve read in the past, I still really enjoyed it. There were definitely some things that felt different about this one, I felt really interested in how things were going to turn out. And although I had somewhat of an idea, the plot twists kept me guessing right up until the end. There was a great build up in tension within the plot line but I still thought there was a lack of chemistry between the main characters. It felt almost like the emotions at play were a tad forced, it didn’t feel like there was a depth of real emotions there. This could have just been me personally not being able to connect much with the characters, but I find that this is a common issue for me with this author’s more recent work. It didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of the story though since I enjoyed the plot line so much. I’d still recommend reading it!

Link to author website

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