2018 Book #23 – Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

510QHlz22KLTitle: Not That I Could Tell
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 3/27/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 27, 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:

An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

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 had read Strawser’s debut novel, Almost Missed You, last year and really enjoyed it so I was excited to see her next book available for review. Strawser’s second book Not That I Could Tell is a great book with a lot to enjoy. The plot line had plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. I especially liked how the narrator / POV was continually changing, every time I felt myself growing a little restless with the story we’d switch the POV and I’d be back and engaged in the story. And I really loved how multi-faceted all the characters were, and how quirky and likable all the women were. There were a couple things in the book that happened that I found to be “unfair” (one example is the chastising speech Izzy gets from her Dad, while he may have been right it was painful still) but life is also unfair and it added to the drama and build up of the story line. I have to say I didn’t see the ending for this one coming, it took me completely by surprise. That being said I’m not sure that I ended up overall satisfied with how it ended. And I think as a reader I would’ve liked more details about Kristen’s back story (other than just the one event) to try and understand more of what she went through leading up to this. Overall though I really liked this book and I would recommend it, this would be a great vacation/beach read!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #21 – The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

41DOwpZKXvL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Flight Attendant
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Date finished: 3/20/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Pages in book: 345
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:

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police – she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home – Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendantunveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.

My rating:  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.

This book was hard for me to get into, I didn’t find that there was a lot that really reached out and grabbed me. Elena’s character didn’t evolve for me as I expected it to and Cassie’s character really was just a portrayal of an awful person and it made it hard for me to connect with her. She was extremely self-destructive and flawed, and I had trouble understanding a lot of her decisions throughout the book. I found it especially unfortunate that I struggled with some of the book because the ending ROCKED. I literally gasped, I never saw it coming. There aren’t many books I can say that for, if I had been more engaged through the rest of the novel this one would have probably been a home run for me. As it is though I would still really very much recommend it because my struggle was probably just based on my current attention span and even if it wasn’t the ending still was worth it!

Link to author website

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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

Link to author website

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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!

Link to author website

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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.

Link to author website

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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 #74 – The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

51EoaKhZDyLTitle: The Other Girl
Author: Erica Spindler
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 247
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 horrific crime. One witness—a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law.
Is it any surprise no one believed her?

Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop—the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda.

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 tells the story of Miranda Roder, a cop in harmony, Louisiana. She’s called into work late at night on a murder case, the son of the President for the local college was murdered in a brutal way. While searching his house though, she discovers a news article about her arrest from twenty years ago when she was 15. And then her fingerprints are found at the crime scene even though she wore her gloves the whole time. And the Police Chief, her boss, suspects her of killing the guy. Miranda gets taken off the case but she can’t let it go and so decides to do some investigating of her own. Along the way, her new relationship with her partner Jake and her friendship with local bartender Summer lend Miranda the resources she needs to look into who might be framing her. And as more bodies start to pile up, she needs all the help she can get to solve this case.

Overall I liked this book a lot. The story line was interesting and original and kept me on my toes. The plot twists were really good but I thought Miranda could’ve put the pieces together a little quicker. The conversations between characters at a couple points were stilted or lacked depth but it wasn’t so bad. And I felt like the plot was inventive enough that it was easier to look past some of the smaller downfalls. This was a pretty quick read and I didn’t want to put it down. I liked that the author tried to throw off the reader a little but at the same time they felt a tiny bit off within the story line at a couple points. Like with Jake’s sister towards the end and Jake’s cryptic message it made me start to think things but it never explained really why it ended up being included in the story. Overall though it was good, ending was a little sad but I really liked it.

The bottom line: This book was awesome! I loved the mystery and all the surprise twists, I thought the plot was really well done. Some of the conversations were awkward but other than that this was really good, I would recommend.

Link to author website

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