Review: Keep Her Close by Erik Therme @ErikTherme @Bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: December 5, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Someone took your daughter. And nobody believes you … 

Then: 
Three-year-old Ally was found alone in a parking lot. 
She was barefoot and dressed only in a yellow sundress. In the middle of winter. 
What kind of person would abandon their daughter? 

Now: 
Fifteen years later and Ally has a new family. 
But her real father has sent her a letter. 
And now Ally is missing. 

Review:

Phew, what a crazy, intense read this one was! You know those one sitting, edge of your seat type of reads that only come along occasionally? Keep Her Close is that kind of read, it was wild.

The less you know about this one, the better, there are so many insane twists and turns all the way through that I can’t say much more than what the blurb reveals or I would be verging into spoiler territory. It’s incredibly fast paced, exciting and played off all of my worst fears as parent. I will say that there were a couple of instances where I had to suspend a little disbelief, but I honestly didn’t care because I was so entertained. This had the type of ending that shocks and awes, totally explosive and unexpected. I kept thinking this would make for a great action movie too, it had that same great adrenaline rush and nonstop action. Overall just a really fun, entertaining read!

Keep Her Close in three words: Tense, Explosive and Addictive.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and the author for my review copy.

Q & A with William Myers, A Killer’s Alibi @williammyersjr

It’s publication day for one of my recent favorite reads, A Killer’s Alibi and I have a Q & A with the author himself to share. First, here’s some more information about the book, this one comes highly recommended by me!

Blurb:

For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters—some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

Q & A:

Share the first sentence of the book. How did you come up with it? What is its significance?
“Eight are with him at the table.” This is the first sentence of the Prologue and I wanted it to have some punch. I also wanted it to feel a little ominous; although the scene begins with jubilance and bonhomie, it ends very darkly. It is also a pivotal point in the life in one of the books antagonists, Philly crime lord Jimmy Nunzio.

How did you come up with characters’ names and/or the title of the book?
A good question. For main characters, like Mick McFarland, Piper McFarland (his wife) and Tommy McFarland (Mick’s brother), I played around with the names a lot and settled on the ones I chose once they “felt” right. With Mick and Tommy I wanted solid, traditional names. Piper has a little more whimsy to her, though, as a character, she becomes a stronger person with each new book. I chose “Christina” Nunzio’s name because I like irony (one you read the book, you’ll know what I mean).

Review: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important. 

Review:

Ugh I hate writing super negative reviews but I just really didn’t like this one you guys. I’m not going to spend a bunch of time bashing this just because it didn’t work for me, seriously I just scrolled the goodreads reviews for this and a lot of my friends like this, so clearly I’m in the minority on this one.

Let me point out that my reasons for not enjoying this one have absolutely nothing to do with the authors writing, in fact she’s a great writer. What didn’t work for me was the story itself and my lack of a connection with any of the characters. This follows one family after one sister gets sent to prison and the two other sisters are left to pick up the pieces of her life, mainly in the care of her teenaged twin daughters. The problem for me was that I just didn’t care about these people, I wasn’t invested in their lives at all so then I was just bored. I pushed through and really probably should’ve just gave up, because it was a pretty miserable experience for me in the end. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did, it just ended. Overall, I’m just not the right reader for this one unfortunately.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman—Evie Carter—from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim—a hostage—and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have? 

Review:

For me February isn’t about Valentine’s Day, it means a new LG book which is way better than any chocolates or flowers anyway. When that LG book also happens to be a new D. D. Warren book AND features one of my new favorite additions, Flora Dane, then I’m excited beyond belief. Gardner is one of those writers that truly gets better with each book, her style gets more honed, her plot lines get more intricate and her subject matter gets darker and more bold, she’s truly one of the best crime writers around.

If you’ve been following this series then you already know that D. D. and Flora don’t agree 99 percent of the time and their contentious relationship is part of what makes reading about them so much fun for me. They have so much in common, yet at the same time they really don’t, and watching them square off is always entertaining, especially in the midst of some pretty disturbing crime scenes. You also see a little more of D. D.’s inner sweet side again, which is an aspect of her character that I’ve grown to love. She’s still a hard assed, take no prisoners woman most of the time, but motherhood has softened her a bit and made her relatable.

Besides D. D. and Flora you have a third perspective here, Evie who is found holding a literal smoking gun over her husband’s dead body. There’s always more than meets the eye in a LG book and this was no exception, this isn’t an open and shut case by any means and the race to the finish line was fast, exciting and oh so satisfying. Also, for Evie only being introduced in this book, she was shockingly well drawn, LG never skimps on character development and it always makes me even more invested in her books.

This entire series comes highly recommended by me, and it’s tough to stand firmly behind a series as long as this one. Most times there’s at least a few duds, but each of these books is downright amazing. If you’re already a fan then you’ll be happy, and if you’re new then at the very least I would highly suggest going back three books and beginning with the ones that introduce Flora. Total must reads for crime fiction fans!

Never Tell in three words: Rapid, Intricate and Unputdownable.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter, a good girlfriend. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, after her mother’s death, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And her boyfriend Tim, thoughtful, kind, and honest, not to mention her best friend since childhood, feels the same. But after Nina’s father passes away, she learns he may not have practiced what he preached. 

As her world falls apart, Nina begins to question everything she thought she knew and to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her handsome and attentive boss, Rafael–in a new light. Soon Nina finds herself caught between the world she knows and loves, and a passion that could upend everything.

More than Words is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live. 

Review:

I’ve been holding off on posting my review until today simply because I can’t think of a more fitting book to discuss on Valentine’s Day than this one! It was a great love story, but it also had plenty of depth and was about so much more than two people falling in love, it explored several other relatable topics and issues as well.

I love a book that follows a character at a defining point in their lives, it’s so interesting to me to see what choices they make and what actions take place after some sort of event shakes up their life. Nina losing her father is her defining moment, she begins to question everything she’s been sure of her entire life and she really starts to come into her own. I really enjoyed watching her grow, mature and just start to feel comfortable in her own skin, on her own terms.

Love triangles are nothing new, but this one is done well. So many times I’m clearly rooting hard for one person to “get the girl” in these types of stories, but here I genuinely liked both men in Nina’s life which made me feel for her (and them) as she struggled to chose one of them. There was quite a bit of drama here as Nina navigates life after her fathers death, which was also fun as it broke up the romancey parts.

This was my first Santopolo book and I was impressed by her writing, it’s lyrical and fluid with a bit a magic to it as well, really perfect for a romance. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about The Light We Lost and am really excited to read that one too after this gem.

More Than Words in three words: Touching, Sweet and Lyrical.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Secretary by Renee Knight

Goodreads

Release date: February 12, 2019

Publisher: Harper

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

From her first day as Personal Assistant to the celebrated Mina Appleton, Christine Butcher understands what is expected of her. Absolute loyalty. Absolute discretion. For twenty years, Christine has been a most devoted servant, a silent witness to everything in Mina’s life. So quiet, you would hardly know she is there.

Day after day, year after year, Christine has been there, invisible—watching, listening, absorbing all the secrets floating around her. Keeping them safe.

Christine is trusted. But those years of loyalty and discretion come with a high price. And eventually Christina will pay.

Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate such a steadfast woman. Because as everyone is about to discover, there’s a dangerous line between obedience and obsession. 

Review:

I’m completely torn about my feelings on this one, on one hand it was a quick, addictive read that I flew through quickly. But on the other hand, it was just so damn weird that I’m not even sure I can explain it to you, but I’ll try!

This is told entirely from the POV of the secretary, Christine and focuses solely on her relationship with her boss, Mina. There is very little dialogue, it’s more of one long stream of Christine’s inner monologue with occasional conversations. It was just an odd setup, but I didn’t hate it and I kept reading so the author did something right. Parts of it also felt a bit tedious too, there was a lot of mundane recalls of memories as Christine tells the story of how she began working for Mina eighteen years ago, but somehow I knew that this would all lead up to something big.

In the end, as much as I knew something was going to happen, otherwise why all of history, right? But I had zero idea as to what that would be. Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything I would’ve ever come up with on my own. It was a little off the rails and out there, extreme to the max. I still don’t know if it worked for me or not?! It’s memorable for sure though. I know this is an extremely wishy washy and probably entirely unhelpful review, but this was just a peculiar read for me. I can’t say I loved or hated it, so I can’t fully recommend it either.

Overall rating: 3/5 (I debated doing a 2.5, but I did cruise through it and she is a good writer so…)

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 12, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

Introducing the first book in the new pulse-pounding Sacramento series from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose. 

FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds did not have a conventional upbringing. Raised in a cult in Northern California, his mother smuggled him out when he was thirteen, and he never saw her again. It is not a bit of history he is keen on sharing, but being guarded has not gotten him any closer to what he really wants: a family.

Daisy Dawson lived a sheltered childhood. Her father, a former military man, believed that the woman he loved and her daughter were being hunted, so he took extreme measures to keep his family safe. But despite his best efforts, Daisy is done being scared. New to Sacramento, she is ready to jump headfirst into life–until she is attacked one night.

Gideon is caught unawares by Daisy, who is unlike any victim he has ever met. But the attacker is far from finished, and tracking him will threaten to pull Gideon back to the world he fought so hard to leave… 

Review:

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read a ton of romantic suspense, which is sorta weird because I like both suspense and romance separately, but not often together. I often find that there’s usually too much romance and not enough tension, I never really find the right balance for my personal taste. And then I was browsing Netgalley and saw the cover/blurb for this and I just couldn’t ignore it and I am thrilled that I gave it a try, it was excellent.

I have to warn you guys that this is a long book, over 600 pages, so this is not a book to binge read at all. It’s one where character development is key and Rose is fantastic at peeling back the layers of the main characters. It’s also the first in a new series where any good author will spend some time diving into their leads, so while understandable, it’s a dense one. I knew this going in and was prepared, so I settled in and savored the read, I want to make sure you also know this before thinking this is a one sitting read or one that you’ll fly through.

While it is long and the characters are incredibly well drawn, it is still incredibly tense and there is plenty of excitement. Daisy is in danger almost from page one and there was a fantastic sense of dread that steadily increased as the story progressed. Between the action there was a relationship burgeoning Daisy and Gideon and their chemistry was HOT, so basically there was always something exciting going on!

If you’re already a fan of romantic suspense then definitely check this out, and if you’re a little wary like me, this is an excellent place to start. Trust me, it’s still very dark with a creepy serial killer on the loose and even he was interesting and well drawn! There’s also a religious cult, which fascinates me, something for everyone here.

Say You’re Sorry in three words: Tense, Compelling and Dark.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Hiding Place by C. J. Tudor @cjtudor

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Crown

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

Review:

The Chalk Man was one of my favorite reads from last year so I was highly anticipating Tudor’s next book, but was also a little apprehensive because you never know if they can keep the momentum going and deliver another hit. I’m so happy to say that it’s an absolute yes from me, I liked this one just as much as TCM and believe Tudor is a serious force to be reckoned with!

This one was creepy with a capital C you guys, it blends a classic thriller with a supernatural twist and was a truly chilling read. Joe’s hometown used to be a mining town that’s long since been disused and the atmosphere of this was desolate, stark and incredibly scary. There was just a really strong sinister vibe that, coupled with some creepy characters made this one to read during the day!

This was one of those books that gives off an uneasy feeling the whole time, the sense that something isn’t quite right. It flips back and forth from present day and 1992 when Joe’s sister Annie goes missing and then suddenly returns, but something is off. These chapters gave me the chills and when everything came together not only was I stunned, I was also scared to death! Highly recommended, especially if you liked TCM but also if you just like mystery/thrillers.

The Hiding Place in three words: Sinister, Scary and Atmospheric.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Dead Ex by Jane Corry

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Viking

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She’s just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep–her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don’t believe her. And her memory’s hardly reliable–what if she did have something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet’s not old enough to know that the “game” her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care–an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David’s new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David’s disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women–and the one person they can’t escape.

Review:

I know many people are kinda over the whole unreliable narrator thing in psychological thrillers but for me, when they’re done well I’m all about it. This one was done incredibly well and the unreliability kept me constantly guessing and then second guessing myself, I just love that!

This is told from a few perspectives, first you have Vicki who suffers from epilepsy and between the seizures she has and the medications she has to take her memory and recollection is hazy at best. Then you have Scarlet, a little girl who is sent to foster care after her mother is sent to jail. It flips back and forth between the two and it also alternates timelines and I really wasn’t sure how they could possibly be connected. When things finally did start to come together it was nothing that I saw coming ahead of time, it was really clever and well executed.

Characterization is Corry’s strong suit, even though Vicki was hard to read in terms of dependability she was very well drawn and extremely interesting. Poor Scarlet broke my heart, she was so little when her mom was locked up and had some rough times. Between the great characters, the strong writing and the twisty storyline I was totally engrossed and eager to see how it would work out in the end, and the conclusion was really strong, the author threw in one more sucker punch of a twist that was utterly satisfying. Highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers, especially those who like to be left guessing.

The Dead Ex in three words: Addictive, Unpredictable and Engrossing.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Once A Liar by A. F. Brady

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Did he kill Charlie Doyle? And if he didn’t…who did?

Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, worked ruthlessly to become the best at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. He fights without remorse to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.

When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin. He becomes the prime suspect as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.

In the challenge of his career and his life, Peter races against the clock to prove his innocence. As the evidence mounts against him, he’s forced to begin unraveling his own dark web of lies and confront the sins of his past. But the truth of who killed Charlie Doyle is more twisted and sinister than anyone could have imagined…

Review:

This flips back and forth between Then and Now, then follows Peter as he begins his career and adult life and now is after Charlie is murdered and he becomes the prime suspect. Sometimes I get annoyed when a book alternates timelines but this time I enjoyed it. Almost every chapter ended with some sort of revelation or small twist and this tactic only served to propel me forward faster to get back to what I had just left behind. Both timelines were equally engrossing and I really didn’t prefer one over the other, I was invested in both.

If you enjoy reading books with characters that you love to hate you have got to check this one out! There is something so fun about reading about a ruthlessly unapologetic person and Peter was absolutely despicable but SO entertaining. He reminded me a lot of Paul from Best Day Ever, there was a hint of that same dark humor which is a huge plus for me as well, so if you liked that book definitely add this one.

I did see one part of the big reveal coming slightly ahead of time but then there was another little twist that I hadn’t anticipated and that really made this one a solid read for me. The ending itself was satisfying as well, overall a very well executed mystery.

Once A Liar in three words: Duplicitous, Unexpected and Skillful.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.