The Twilight Wife

The Twilight WifeThe Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting mystery with a few unexpected twists that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

The first couple of chapters in this book drew me in and I was hooked by the third. I liked the main character right away and wanted to know what was going on with her. After she began discovering that things weren’t as they seemed, my curiosity grew and the pages started flying by. This is a very exciting book from the beginning and only gets better as you get farther into it.

I love psychological suspense books that keep you guessing at what is really going on all the way to the end, and this one does that well. Even when you think you have it figured out, there is still something left to be revealed around every corner.

If you love the kind of books where you and the main character have to figure out the mystery together, this would be a good one to pick. Recommended.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Little One by Timothy G. Huguenin

Little OneLittle One by Timothy G. Huguenin

Death is cold.

Kelsea Stone can’t remember her childhood, and frankly, she doesn’t really care. She’s doing fine on her own in L.A. without any family to tie her down. But when she finds out her estranged birth parents have died and left her their house in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, she discovers more than just an inheritance waiting for her in the mountains. An angry presence lingers there, and it won’t rest until it has had its revenge.–Goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t think this was a bad book, but perhaps it was a little more on the younger reader side than I would have imagined from reading the description. Some of the actions of the characters seemed a bit silly to me and at times the story felt a little clunky, like it was afraid to move forward.

The plot is interesting and I was looking forward to solving the mystery at the heart of the book, but then I would fall into a spot where the story seemed to bog down and wonder if I really had the desire to finish it or not. Eventually, I did make it all the way to the end, but it was not without a struggle to keep paying attention.

My honest opinion is that this is a talented author that has a great imagination, but could have benefited from giving this book further consideration and the use of good beta readers before releasing it. If you cut out the portions of this that slow the story down, it would have been great. The setting was interesting and the descriptions were good.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

the Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-written, highly emotional novel about family and second chances–perfect for a quiet afternoon to yourself.

If you enjoy reading books that mirror real life and include tough decisions for the main character, this one will do nicely. I liked a lot of things about this book. The way the author described the relationships and emotional upheaval of her characters made me feel very close to the story early on, and there was enough going on in the story to keep the pages moving quickly. The setting was described adequately but without the minutia that can slow a story down.

Lucy was someone that I could easily identify with, and I cared what happened to her right away. I thought the author did an excellent job of hinting at what had happened to her earlier in life without giving away the entire end of the book early on. I was especially enthralled with the relationship between Lucy and her stepdaughter, as it rang so true.

This was an entertaining book that kept me busy for an entire afternoon and I would happily recommend it to those who like serious novels. It made me cry–but in a good way.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Dead Seeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Dead Sleeping Shaman (Emily Kincaid Mysteries Book 3)Dead Sleeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

The End Timers, a cult-like group, have descended on part-time journalist and aspiring mystery author Emily Kincaid’s small Michigan town. With dire warnings that the end of the world is just two weeks away, the entire community has been disrupted by psychics, cult followers, believers and disbelievers alike. But when Emily’s latest job assignment leads her to an eerily motionless woman propped against a tree, she realizes that at least one person’s world has come to an end all too soon.

Emily soon learns that the victim, an eccentric psychic and leader of a shamanic healing group, harbored painful memories of the area and had mysterious ties to certain members of the cult. Turning to her friend Deputy Dolly Wakowski for help, she’s stunned to learn that Dolly has turned in her badge and joined the cult, leaving Emily to fear for her friend’s sanity and forcing her to try to solve the case on her own.

As the days tick away to the end of the world, Emily has to navigate her way through a crowd of true believers, a group of shamanic well-wishers, and a suspiciously secretive cult leader to rescue her friend and catch a killer—all the while dreading that these few precious days may be her last.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a rather rare jewel among writers. She can make you laugh, keep you interested and make you angry with a certain character all at the same time. It is these conflicting emotions that make me return to her writing time and again.

In this book, Emily literally stumbles upon the scene of a murder and once more, things are not as simple as they might first seem. I am always thrilled to see what she and Dolly do with the information they gather. I love the interaction between those two ladies, and for me, Dolly is always what makes the book.

There is more ex-husband drama to be had in this story, and it gave me a good reason to smile, watching the way Emily shuts him down. I liked the way the story flowed and thought the mystery was interesting and original.

I love the setting of these stories and the way the author describes the place that her main character lives as well as the surrounding areas. She makes great use of not only proper word choices, but of the seasons, the time of day, etc. for a full immersion reading experience.

This book kept me entertained for the better part of a day, with few breaks in between. If you like mysteries that think outside the box, this is perfect.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The Missing Ones (Detective Lottie Parker, #1)The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really not sure what to think about this book when it comes to recommending it. It was a great book, with excellent writing and a strong plot that never let me down, but it is also a rather graphic novel that included subjects that I try to avoid if possible–including sexual abuse. I think it takes a strong individual to read a novel with this kind of subject matter and not recoil a bit.

The crimes are interesting and the web of intrigue the author builds makes you want to keep turning pages to find out how things are connected and why they happened in the first place. There is a wide net of suspects and it is hard to guess the ending, particularly with the red herrings the author tosses into the mix. I liked the descriptions of the setting and the way the weather and time of year played into the story.

For the first book in a new series, this was complex, engaging and exciting and made me want to read the next book before I even finished this one, but, as mentioned above, there is some tough subject matter in this novel, and it may not be for everyone.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book and really enjoyed the voice of this author.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Serpentine by Thomas Thompson

SerpentineSerpentine by Thomas Thompson

With compelling style and suspense this true-crime book reconstructs the bizarre, bloody journey of a mesmerizing but sinister young man named Charles Sobhraj. Sweeping back and forth over half the globe — from the boulevards of Paris to the slopes of Mount Everest to the underbellies of Bangkok and Hong Kong — Sobhraj left in his wake a trail of baffling mystery and inexplicable horror. He also led the police of a dozen nations on a chase that ended at least twelve and possibly twenty-four corpses later with a mere seven-year prison sentence in Delhi. Besides offering a riveting narrative of serial murder and a years-long manhunt, this singular volume examines the lives not only of the intelligent, charismatic, conscienceless, and thoroughly dangerous Sobhraj but also of the unsuspecting victims that he drugged, robbed, sometimes tortured, and without a qualm often killed. A chilling tale of deadly coincidences set in exotic, glamorous locales, Serpentine offers a reading experience as frightening as it is unforgettable.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst the story of Charles Sobhraj is an interesting one, this book could have benefited from being shorter, in my opinion. The author did a excellent job of researching and fact collecting, but the book was so bogged down by minutia that at times, it became boring and the flow of the story was lost on me.

Even so, if you can wade through the many details, you will likely find this book very interesting. The early life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj was recounted in such a manner that you can get a clear and concise portrait of his mental struggles, including his co-dependent relationship with his mother and his fiery temper, often fueled by the fair-weather relationship with his biological father.

As the book progresses and Charles ages, it becomes clear that he has a very elastic sense of right and wrong and that he lives his life as he chooses, with only his own satisfaction in mind. His moral sense is absolutely misguided and the author makes this perfectly clear.

If you are looking for a true crime book that will make you stop and think about nature Vs. nurture, this is a good one to choose. Overall, I thought it was very entertaining.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

Those Who LieThose Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

Emily Klein doesn’t know she has killed her husband until the day of his funeral.
At first, signs point to a tragic accident. Yet, as Emily pieces together the events before his death – events which led to her own memory loss – she begins to suspect that her husband’s death may have been the result of more than a terrible twist of fate…

But the accident is only the beginning. Because while Emily’s physical scars will heal, the trauma of the accident has awakened old ghosts. She hears strange sounds, catches things that can’t possibly be there in the corner of her eye. Before long, everywhere she looks, she seems to see her husband.

And suddenly, Emily finds herself asking the most dangerous question of all.

Can she really trust herself?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a decent book, but it didn’t grab me from the very beginning and refuse to let go. It was more like it was evenly paced and I didn’t want to set it down and forget about it, but wasn’t overly, ferociously determined to get to the end either. It was good, and definitely intriguing, but I felt there were some areas, such as how the MC felt about her husband’s death that could have been explored in more depth before the end of the novel.

Still, this book has a lot going for it and a lot to recommend it. Even when I was half way or so through the book, I never really knew who I could trust. Even the main character seemed to be on shaky ground and that made it far more interesting. I liked her personality and the way she presented herself when there was trouble happening all around her. Emily is a strong female character with a lot of determination to survive and find answers to both her murky past and her present situation.

The secondary characters were also interesting and made the book worth reading. This novel has a twisty plot that will keep you reading, and keep you questioning what you think is really going on. Overall, it was a pleasure to read.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

Expecting to Die (To Die, #7)Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

The menacing woods of Grizzly Falls, Montana, are not for the faint of heart. But for some, they’re the perfect setting for partying and pranks. They don’t know there’s a rapt audience amid the tangled trees, a killer with a different kind of game in mind, for whom the woods are dark and deep and perfectly deadly.

Some places earn their bad reputation through tall tales or chance. Grizzly Falls is different. Here, killers aren’t just the stuff of legends and campfire lore. Someone is in the night-time shadows, watching the local teens play around in the moonlit woods. Waiting for the right moment, the right victim. Waiting to take away a life.

Detective Regan Pescoli is counting the days until her maternity leave. Exhausted and emotional, the last thing she needs is another suspected serial killer. Especially when her daughter, Bianca, is swept up in the media storm. When a reality show arrives in town, the chaos only makes it harder for Pescoli and her partner, Selena Alvarez, to distinguish rumor from truth.

Another body is found and another. And as the nightmare strikes closer to home, Pescoli races to find the terror lingering in the darkness, where there are too many places to hide and countless places to die.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love series that are set in small towns and Grizzly Falls is one of those places where you come to feel like you know everyone there and could easily navigate the streets if you came to visit. It’s also the perfect setting for a book where a killer need a place to hide–with the forest and mountains and location out of the way of the modern world surroundings. The author takes full advantage of that and thrills her readers from beginning to end with “Expecting to Die.”

I’ve always had a thing for Lisa Jackson books because I know the suspense will be high and it will be hard to guess the ending, and this book is no exception to that rule. This novel has a pretty large cast of characters and gets more complex as the plot moves along, but is never confusing. I liked Bianca a lot in this book and although some of the subject matter could have gone awry and become worthy of an eye-roll, it never did. Lisa Jackson could turn just about anything into a solid hair-raising story, just as she proved with this book.

I’m a glutton for punishment. I love reading thrillers at night, when the house is dark, or when we are out in the wilderness somewhere camping and away from civilisation. This is just the kind of novel that would scare the living daylights out of me in such a situation (it did, at night, on the couch) and so if you, like me, want to go prematurely grey with worry over what is stalking you that you can’t see but can feel just beyond the tree line, this is the book for you.

In the end, this was a great book with a lot to recommend it. If you love stories that never stop and hardly slow down, surprise endings and characters that make you care what happens to them, this is a great book to choose. Read the rest of the series as well, they’re a lot of fun, too.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided by netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The United States of Absurdity

The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American HistoryThe United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History by Dave Anthony

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was hilarious. I loved the way the narration pointed out the finer points in the stupidity of history, and thought the running commentary on absurd history was great. This book may not be for the feint of heart, as there are some very strange, as well as…ewww, moments included in it. If, however, you are a brave individual with a strong stomach, I say go forth and populate the earth with the knowledge that you gain from this book. Just don’t sue me for your psychiatry bill. Go for the authors instead. They are at the root of this mess.

This is the kind of book that makes you laugh at inappropriate times and in the worst of places. It also makes you feel lucky that we live in modern times, until you realise that history is doomed to repeat itself because we are all morons that don’t learn from books like this. Then you feel something else.

In any case, I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a good laugh and to learn about the stupids that came before us. If nothing else, it will make you think. Thoughts you might not want to share. Those are the best kind.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through netgalley, who must have decided my stomach strength passed the test and decided to offer me the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Confrontation with Evil by Steven A. LaChance

Confrontation with Evil: An In-Depth Review of the 1949 Possession That Inspired the ExorcistConfrontation with Evil: An In-Depth Review of the 1949 Possession That Inspired the Exorcist by Steven A LaChance

Known as the 1949 St. Louis Exorcism, the story of possessed child Roland Doe was immortalized in the groundbreaking novel and film The Exorcist. Much has been written about the case, but the truth has been shrouded in secrecy…until now.

Join Steven A. LaChance, as he shares the shocking evidence for how a family’s grief over the death of an aunt progressed into a full-blown demonic possession. While the conventional story is that Roland Doe brought the demonic infestation upon himself, LaChance convincingly suggests an alternative interpretation, and provides new insights into the nature of possession itself.

The events of 1949 culminated in grueling exorcism rites, but the story doesn’t end there as LaChance guides readers through the stunning aftermath that forever changed the Catholic church and the city of St. Louis.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I ended up giving this a full five stars, simply for the interest factor. It kept me turning pages. I can’t say that I fully accept everything about this case as fact, regardless of who has dissected it and reported on it, but the author’s arguments were convincing, for his in-depth research and unique personal experiences.

Honestly, I found most of the value in the first half of the book. It was written from a new angle, spending more time focusing on the family and clergy and their poor decisions regarding the treatment of the boy in question, rather than blaming the entire event on the child himself.

You can come at this book from many different directions and probably form a million different opinions based on your faith and your own experiences, but one thing is for sure, something happened that no one will ever be able to completely explain.

The latter half of the book did not lose my interest, but I saw it as more speculation than proven fact. I would have liked to have seen more witness interviews included to back up the ideas of the author.

Still, this was a fascinating look at a case that still draws interest today. If you are interested in the case, you want to read this one.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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