2018 Book #55 – Believe Me by JP Delaney

41bWssVS-9LTitle: Believe Me
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 7/1/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
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:

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?

But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

My rating:  4.75 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 had read The Girl Before by JP Delaney last year and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to get the chance to read his new release. And it did not disappoint! This was a really great book, it was dark and mysterious and honestly entrancing. I didn’t want to put it down. The reader really gets drawn into Claire’s character and mindset, and while she can be somewhat of an unreliable narrator, her character was fascinating. I also loved how the dark poet, Charles Baudelaire, played such a critical role in the plot of the book. Baudelaire was an actual French poet, and his most famous work, Les Fleurs de mal, is a dark exploration of sexuality and death. And so too, this book is a dark and twisted exploration of reality and relationships. We as the reader are dependent on Claire’s version of reality, which alternates between seemingly clear and downright delusional. I did not at all see the ending coming, this was one of the few gasp-worthy endings I can remember experiencing. This was really a great book and I would highly recommend giving it a read!

Link to author website

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

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2018 Book #54 – Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

61pFV5dvJZLTitle: Lying in Wait
Author: Liz Nugent
Date finished: 6/26/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Pages in book: 322
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 international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

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.

This book was pretty great. It really sucks you in, by about a third of the way through I didn’t want to put it down. Each twist  in the road just made me more addicted to the plot. There was a sick and twisted feeling as the reader connects with the characters though, as many of the narrators in the novel have dark sides and dirty secrets. The book alternates between three different time periods and multiple points of view. I thought it was especially interesting that Lydia and Annie’s characters were both institutionalized at different points against their will. The plot twisted in a way that I did not expect, and I definitely did not see the ending coming at all. The ending was still crazy sad, but I guess I should have expected that based on how the book was going. I also thought it was interesting that the book looked at the difference in upper and lower classes and also the change in generations. Also there are some significant differences between the way things worked in Ireland at that time compared to everywhere else. Overall I thought this was a really great book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #72 – Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

51pkE2hbOuL._SY346_Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Date finished: 8/29/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
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:

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Bestselling author Wendy Walker returns with another winning thriller, Emma in the Night.

My rating:  5.0 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. This book tells the story of Cass Tanner, the daughter of a classic narcissist who disappeared three years ago along with her sister Emma. Cass suddenly appears after the three years on her mother’s doorstep, with claims that Emma is being held against her will and that they need to go save her. Spending most of the next few days with the police telling them every detail she can remember in the hopes that it will help piece together where they were being held and where Emma is now. Through all this, Dr. Abby Winter, a forensic psychiatrist who is familiar with this case, notices oddities about Cass’s story that don’t quite add up.
Overall I loved this book. I didn’t want to put it down – the story was so interesting and engaging. It was perfectly in your head psychological and i could see into the mind of Cass and could understand her thought process. I loved the plot and all the plot twists and everything the story encompassed. Also funny story, I read this one while visiting my family’s house in Maine, which is off the coast near South Bristol. And funny enough when they’re trying to find the island where the girls were being held this was the exact location they were looking at. They even mention the island of Thrumcap in the book which is so cool because I could see that island from my house! Even without that added coincidence though, this was a great book with a lot to offer for a thriller and I would definitely recommend it!!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was hooked right from the very beginning. I loved how the author unfurled this story, I didn’t want to put the book down. I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2015 Book #69 – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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Title: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 7/8/15
Genre:  Fiction/Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Pages in book: 338
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.
As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.
The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I feel like I have seen this book everywhere over the last few months. Every couple months now I feel like a book will come out and everyone says its the next “Gone Girl” but its nothing like Gone Girl. And that’s pretty much what happened with this one. It even says right on the front of the book “With the cunning and verve of Gillian Flynn” (Gone Girl author), leading readers to believe this will fill the hole in them that Gone Girl left behind. I think its unfair in most cases to compare one book to another because each is its own little magical portal and while you may find similarities in them, they really aren’t comparable. And to be honest I saw more parallels to Gone Girl in The Daylight Marriage than I did in this book.
Anyways, so this book is about TifAni FaNelli, who grew up far too quickly when she transferred from a Catholic girls school to an upper class private school almost an hour away from her house. She was expelled from the Catholic school for an incident that had to do with pot, but I thought the whole thing was odd since she didn’t get the pot in the first place. So she ends up going to this hoity toity private school with a bunch of rich kids whose parents don’t ever supervise them so they end up spending all their time getting drunk and doing drugs. She makes friends with the popular kids eventually but then an “incident” causes her to fall out of favor with them. I don’t want to say too much about what else happens with the high school stuff because it is a bit of a twist. The book alternates between her remembering these events from her childhood/high school experience and her at twenty-nine when she is getting ready for her wedding in a few weeks and having a lot of second thoughts. Due to the trauma she dealt with in high school, she has a lot of undealt-with issues as an adult that she has trouble dealing with on a day-to-day basis. She also kind of has a selfish, thought-less fiance who doesn’t see anything past the surface with her and I don’t know how she wasn’t screaming in frustration all the time at him.
There were a lot of other things too that frustrated me about this book. I will say that TifAni is raped while in high school and when her mother finds out her reaction is “You don’t have a body like TifAni’s and go to a party with all boys and drink too much and not know exactly what you’re doing there.” Honestly I had to put the book down for a moment I was so mad. I can’t even imagine a mother so callous. I’m sure a fourteen year old girl who had never drank before (and therefore had no idea where she should limit herself while drinking) had no intention of going to a party and getting so drunk that when a boy found her drunk on the floor he decided to have sex with her unconscious body. WHAT MOTHER THINKS THAT IS HER DAUGHTER’S FAULT. Maybe if she weren’t such a desperate to climb the social ladder wanna-be then her daughter wouldn’t be in this situation. Rant over.
So like I was saying, there were a lot of things about this book that frustrated me. Not in a “this book is awful” way but more in a “these characters are frustrating but that’s a piece of the story” way. I’ve never experienced a character in any other book before that I was able to hate, pity, and admire all at the same time. Ani ends up having a crap ton of issues that kind of make her into a bitch (excuse the language) but through the book you see past the layers of bitch to the scared little girl that just wants to find somewhere she can feel safe again. And she has survived and dealt with so much and went on to find a job she loves and thrives at and its hard not to admire how much she’s managed to accomplish. I thought the ending was a little odd and vague but other than that I thought this was a good book. Not one of my all-time favorites but quite good.
The bottom line: Eh, I think I would recommend this book, probably not universally though. I would recommend it if I knew the person liked suspense fiction.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page