2018 Book #58 – Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

51vWWmNEwqLTitle: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Date finished: 7/8/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
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:

She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

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 had read this author’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, a couple years ago and I really liked it, and that along with the really interesting cover influenced me to read this book. While there were some repetitive parts to the plot, overall I thought this was a really good books and the short chapters helped to move it along faster. This was definitely what I’d consider a creepy novel. I kind of guessed what direction we were moving in with the plot but still, leading up to the climax of the story I felt the terror and excitement of the characters in their race to discover the truth of what happened to Layla. I would say that the tension between the main characters felt just a tad stale just to me, there was almost a lack of emotion to some of the characters’ interactions. It didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the story though. I enjoyed this book a lot and I really liked the twist ending, I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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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

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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

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2018 Book #51 – Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

51-uzv1SVHLTitle: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 288
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 spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .

My rating:  1.75 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 has what I would say is a text book example of an unreliable narrator. Mike is our narrator throughout the whole book and there are multiple examples of scenes that are told from his point of view that I’m sure are not actually how it happened. Which ended up being frustrating for me only because there was a lack of closure in the end with not knowing which items were true and which were entirely false based on Mike’s perspective. It was hard as a reader to determine the truth from the lies, I know this is something that appeals to some readers but it has never been one of my favorite things. Beyond that the plot itself was just so very sad and to be honest disturbing. Mike was obviously mentally unstable and really needed help. He was delusional in many of his thoughts and beliefs and he seemed so emotionally detached from humanity outside of how he felt about V. This book was too dark for me, but it did have an interesting plot line and I can see how it would be very popular. I would recommend giving it a read, it didn’t work for me but I think it would appeal to a large majority of suspense readers.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #43 – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

51C4xxzWsHLTitle: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 6/1/18
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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.

I had heard a lot of good things about this author recently, but I haven’t had a chance to read any of her books up until now. I was excited to get the opportunity to read this book. The plot line of this book I thought was great, there were so many twists and turns that by the end I couldn’t wait to see what was truth and what was lies. I thought the author did a great job of gently guiding you down a particular path and making you believe things while at the same time presenting facts that would help lead us to the real answer in the end. The answer was right under our noses all along! And the ending really just threw me for such a loop – I didn’t see it coming and it was such a great twist ending. There were a couple small slow parts but other than that I couldn’t put the book down. I also really liked the incorporation of the tarot cards and their meanings. I thought that was such an interesting addition to the story line and also made the whole plot seem a bit more mystical and mysterious. This book was full of danger and heart-pounding tension, and I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future. I would definitely recommend this one!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #40 – A Harmless Little (series) by Meli Raine

Title: A Harmless Little Game / Ruse / Plan
Author: Meli Raine
Date finished: 5/14/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller, romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 18, November 18, and December 13, 2016
Pages in book: 227 / 179  197
Stand alone or series: A Harmless Little series (3 books)
Where I got the book from: The first book was advertised on Facebook and was free, the next two I purchased from Amazon

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: We went away for the weekend last weekend with my family and Sunday morning I was tooling around on Facebook and just scrolling through whatever when I saw the first book in the series advertised. I was in the middle of another book already, and to be perfectly honest I never start a new book when I’m the middle of one already but I decided to just read like the first chapter of this to see if it was something that’d interest me and I was HOOKED. I read all three books within like 36 hours, I couldn’t put them down. The emotions and anger and passions in these novels were just so raw and intense it was hard to get my head out of the story even when I wasn’t reading them. The books all had pretty good plot lines too, there were twists and turns around every corner. And there was like some crazy conspiracies going on. I would be interested to read more by this author in the future when I have free time (HA). My only issue with the books were how mushy and flowery the characters got with their lovey dovey crap. It got to be way too much, especially considering the other stuff that was going on in the novels were pretty dark. There was some gruesome stuff going on, I would definitely say these books are not for the faint of heart. I’d recommend checking them out though, I really liked the story lines.

Link to author website

 

2018 Book #39 – The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

51ehe9xFg0LTitle: The Favorite Sister
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 5/19/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

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.

I had read another of Knoll’s novels a couple of years ago, Luckiest Girl Alive, and I liked it ok. Do when I saw this new release coming out I wanted to check it out. This wasn’t my favorite book. The plot line was pretty interesting and there were a lot of great plot twists, especially towards the end of the novel, but the pace of the novel was frustratingly slow for me and I felt like there was a lot of really dry sections. I also found it kind of frustrating that there was so much vague referencing in the beginning of the book. I know that was kind of the point, to give the reader a tease about the consequence of the action and then later reveal what the action was. But I was frustrated and somewhat confused in the beginning by the flow of events and trying to keep up with who went where when and who wasn’t talking to whom when. The reality show this centers around too just ended up being about catty, bitchy women who for the most part couldn’t stand each other. I definitely wouldn’t call it a feel good novel. It was an interesting plot though, everyone on the show has their secrets but the real question is – whose secrets will be revealed in the end? Read to find out!

Link to author website

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