2018 Book #11 – The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

51MbMthRSSLTitle: The Things We Wish Were True
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Date finished: 1/29/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense, thriller
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Pages in book: 290
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:

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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 is from my 2016 Backlog list, I read this for the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge for the “a book whose title uses alliteration” category.

This book delved into the minds and lives of a number of different characters in a small town, including a child and a matron of the community. A boy is rescued from the pool one day during the summer, unconscious and unresponsive. The people there too witness the event seem to form a bond over the shared experience but all of them have significant secrets to hide. I think that’s one of the things that bothered me about this book, everyone seemed to be betraying someone and (while its naive) its sad to me to think that people are so deceptive and selfish. All of the characters were so downtrodden and unhappy at different points of the story, it was slightly frustrating to get involved with such flawed (but realistic I guess) characters. That being said, I thought this was such a great story and I love how everything was laid out in the end and all the loose ends got tied up neatly. There were some great plot twists, most of which the reader can see coming due to being able to tie together multiple view points but were still exciting. This was a really good read and I would recommend it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I’d finished it!

 

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2018 Book #10 – The Burial Society by Nina Sadowsky

51j018gCG4LTitle: The Burial Society
Author: Nina Sadowsky
Date finished: 1/28/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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 woman running from a dark past stumbles upon a tangled nest of seductions and secrets in this psychological thriller of obsession and betrayal.

Catherine, no last name, doesn’t bury the dead. She rescues the living—from intolerable, abusive, dangerous lives. Her darknet-based witness protection program, the Burial Society, is the last hope for people who desperately need to disappear. Catherine takes care of them and provides new identities. She is effective and efficient—until she discovers that her slipup may have compromised a client, maybe even killed her. Powerless to help without exposing her shadowy profession, Catherine makes a drastic move.

With her covert service relocated to Paris, Catherine’s done her best to move on. But when a dark part of her past suddenly appears in the City of Light, she refuses to run—and her life takes a harrowing turn.

Using all the tricks of her unusual trade, Catherine weaves her way through a dangerous landscape of treachery, infidelity, paranoia, and secrets that bind as deeply as blood. But the evil of the enemy she’s pursuing runs deeper still—to the bone. And even Catherine’s most cunning skills may not be enough to save herself.

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 alternates between present day, when Natalie and Jake’s father is found murdered, and three years ago, when Natalie and Jake’s mother, Mallory, disappeared without a trace. The book also alternates between multiple different characters’ points of view, allowing the reader into multiple characters’ thoughts. The author did a great job of transitioning between time frames and mind sets but it was still a lot to keep up, so it did get a bit confusing at times. The plot also was really well done, and there were some great twists and turns in the book. It was just very sad, what happened to pretty much everyone in the book and all the events that occurred. But overall it was a really good story and I enjoyed it a lot.

Catherine was my favorite character in this book. There were some vague references to what had happened to her in her past but I would’ve loved to get more details about her back story. Maybe that will be a sequel

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2018 Book #8 – In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green

51nqAxpBqbLTitle: In a Cottage In a Wood
Author: Cass Green
Date finished: 1/23/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller,suspense
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 21, 2017 on Kindle (Paperback January 23, 2018)
Pages in book: 321
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:

Her dream home will become her worst nightmare…

A USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestseller. This is the dark and twisty psychological thriller from the No.1 ebook bestselling author of The Woman Next Door.

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

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.

How much fear can one person withstand? 

This book reminded me a little bit of The Girl on the Train, mostly because of the extremely flawed and sometimes unreliable main character. I have to say though I absolutely hated that the main character didn’t have a car – it made me so anxious every time she stepped outside to go somewhere. And (**SPOLIER ALERT**) I should have known from the beginning that a woman was behind the hi-jinks just based on how passive aggressive it was. Not to generalize (but stereotypes exist for a reason) but if a man were trying to scare Neve he would’ve done something much more forceful and in her face. Only a woman would think to leave the radio on all day so that there was no electricity left by the night time and Neve was stuck in the dark, that is just diabolical.

I loved how the author really was able to get inside the reader’s head and make you question whether the things that were happening were real or not. And there was a pretty darn good twist at the end of the book, although I kind of pieced it together it was still really good. While I didn’t love the main character, mostly because of how flawed she was, I did like the character development overall. There were some unanswered questions for me in the story and I don’t like it when villains get to just skip away with no consequences, but overall I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it!

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2018 Book #5 – The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

518u1R1zo6L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Safest Lies
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 1/14/18
Genre: Young adult, thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 (Paperback; hardcover was released May 24, 2016)
Pages in book: 357
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My friend Alex

Blurb from the cover:

Kelsey has lived most of her life in a shadow of suspicion, raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with nothing but her attacker’s baby growing inside her—Kelsey.

Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile and stay off the grid for their protection, but that plan is shattered when her dramatic car accident and rescue by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker sparks media coverage.

A few days later, she arrives home to find her mother missing. Now, to have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her. And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

What do you do when your worst fears are realized?

Kelsey’s whole life her mother has been subtly training her, giving her the knowledge that she would need to survive. Kelsey always believed that her mother was paranoid because of what she experienced when she was around Kelsey’s age – being abducted and held against her will. But after Kelsey’s mother disappears and Kelsey finds herself in danger, facts start to surface that don’t fit with this story. As Kelsey fought her way to freedom and in the days and interrogations that followed, I found the thought process for the police and for some of the other adults in charge to be a little unrealistic. Overall though I liked this book and found it to be an interesting read. I especially liked how Ryan and Kelsey’s relationship developed through the book, I thought it was really sweet. And I think the part where they were trying to escape the panic room was one of the best parts of the book, I only wished it had been closer to the end since it created such great tension in the story. I thought this was a good read though and I would recommend it.

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2018 Book #1 – The Dry by Jane Harper

51MFa84Sb9LTitle: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/2/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 326
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:

A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

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 was provided with this copy from BookBrowse and will be participating in an online book discussion, feel free to join us and participate in the discussion!

This book really delves deep into the darker side of humanity and how a mob mentality can twist and morph in a very dark direction. While I thought the town’s treatment of Aaron as an adult was entirely frustrating (he’s a cop and they’re still treating him like a delinquent), the characters and the plot of this book were intriguing and the author did a great job of developing the plot through the twists and turns. The ending really took me by surprise too, I did not expect it to turn out that way. I thought this was a really interesting and engaging read and I would recommend it.

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2017 Book #82 – The Visitors by Catherine Burns

51QVQtl5CMLTitle: The Visitors
Author: Catherine Burns
Date finished: 9/22/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Pages in book: 304
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:

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side….

My rating:  2.75 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. This book tells the story of Marion Zetland, an old maid who lives with her brother in their deteriorating house left to them by their mother. Marion seems to be mentally challenged, having had a lot of trouble with her schooling and while she dreams of having a family she never seems to develop beyond adolescence. Having been raised by her pervert of a father and her nut of a mother, its no wonder that she ends up a little worse for the wear. She spends all her time at home, mostly daydreaming, while her brother spends most of his time in the cellar with “the visitors.” Marion tries not to think too much about the women who live downstairs, but when her brother John ends up in the hospital she has to become involved with these women for the first time. And as Marion is forced to come to terms with what her life has become, she questions how her devotion to her brother has led her down the wrong path.
Overall I liked this book ok. It was interesting and there were some good plot twists in the story. There were some wordier parts to the story that I found quite dry but past those the story was good. I just felt so bad for everyone involved, even including Marion who I probably shouldn’t have felt so bad for. Her childhood sounded awful though and its no wonder she developed so poorly as a person. She was a bad person if you think about it though, its hard to sympathize with her and yet she was able to go out and start a new life for herself. The story, while suspenseful, was just very sad. Other than that it was ok though. It was interesting enough that I would recommend it but eh it wasn’t my favorite.

The bottom line: I thought this book was fairly good. There were some pretty good plot twists in the story. Overall it was just very sad and pretty wordy in some parts. Was an interesting story overall but not my favorite.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #80 – Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

514EgbkGzQLTitle: Pretend You’re Safe
Author: Alexandra Ivy
Date finished: 9/14/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Part of a 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:

HE SEES YOU
First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .

HE KNOWS YOU
Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.

AND HE’LL NEVER LET YOU GO
Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention—seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .

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. This book tells the story of Jaci Patterson and Rylan Cooper. When Jaci and Rylan were younger, Rylan worked in the sheriff’s office as a deputy. It was there that he ignored Jaci’s cries for help and created this whole problem. Jaci had been receiving lockets with bloody hair attached to them when she was still in high school and she was (obviously) worried about what it meant. Rylan was a little less worried as he was convinced that Jaci is just making all of this up to get his attention. Fast forward to years later, the lockets have started arriving again. And when women she know start disappearing, it becomes obvious that her stalker is losing control. Luckily Rylan is back in town and is now ready to protect her at all costs.

Overall I liked this book, it was an ok story. The story line was interesting and the story built up but for some reason I couldn’t feel much build up of suspense from the story. Jaci as a character too was kind of annoying, and Rylan too I guess. I did like that I had trouble figuring out who the bad guy was, and I liked the way that Rylan eventually figured it out I thought it was very creative/different. Overall this was a pretty good book.

The bottom line: I thought this book was fairly good. The suspense piece of the book was a little lacking but other than that I liked the story.

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