“The Dark Lake”–Review

51ZIhQaUz2L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.

In a rural town in Australia, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is on the case involving a murder of a high school classmate, Rosalind Ryan. To many, Rosalind was beautiful, talented, and mysterious. People seemed to be obsessed with her. But why? After the news of her death comes out, everyone is devastated. What had made Rosalind so special?

As the case goes on, Gemma tries to figure out why Rosalind had quit her teaching job in Sydney to return to her hometown. Even though her father was one of the richest men in town, why did Rosalind live in a run-down apartment? And did anyone truly know her? Was she as great as people claimed?

The longer the case goes on, the more frustrated Gemma becomes. All the while, she’s juggling her own problems and secrets: an affair with her colleague, including a tragedy from long ago that Gemma fears may not stay in the past.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this great debut. The dialogue was well-written and it all left me curious as to what secrets would be revealed. For thriller fans, this might be the book for you. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Sarah Bailey was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived all her life and resides with her two young sons. She has a degree in journalism and works in advertising. She is currently a partner at the creative agency Mr Smith. The Dark Lake is her first novel.

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“The Breakdown”–Review

51Va0R3MSWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

One evening, after leaving a party, Cass lets her husband know she’s heading home and that she might take a shortcut along a rural road.  Her husband, however, advises her to not do it, that it could be dangerous, especially with the dangerous storm occurring.  Cass takes that road, anyhow.  During the downpour, she sees a car parked on the side of the road.  A woman is sitting alone in the car.  Cass pulls over and wonders if the woman is okay, if she’s having car trouble, anything.  The woman doesn’t even acknowledge Cass, so what’s going on?  While feeling concerned, Cass also fears the worst.  It could be a trap.  Cass ends up driving away.

It isn’t long before Cass hears the news of a woman who was killed on that same night.  And it happened to be the woman who was in that car.  Not a day goes by that Cass doesn’t feel guilty for not doing something.  The worst part is that she can’t even tell her own husband because she’d have to tell him she’d driven through that dangerous road.

It all seems to get worse when Cass starts forgetting things, even simple things.  For example, where she left her car, if she took her pills, even the alarm code, etc.  Despite her troubles, it’s the woman she can’t forget.  The woman she could have saved.  Then the silent phone calls she receives adds to her problems, making her fear that someone is watching her every move.

Although this one wasn’t as enjoyable as her previous book, Behind Closed Doors, I still liked this story.  The surprises had me turning the pages and I enjoyed the plot twist.  I was surprised when it all got to who was behind everything.  Of course, I won’t spoil it for you.  In need a good psychological thriller?  I recommend this story.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown will be available on July 18, 2017.

About the author:  B.A. PARIS is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. The Breakdown is her second novel.

“He Said/She Said”–Review

51C2M6jShgL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Who Do You Believe?

With chapters alternating from past to present, this is a story of Laura and Kit, a couple who were young and in love in the summer of 1999.  Kit has always been an eclipse chaser, so he and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun.  It is also a first time that Laura’s witnessing an eclipse.

After the moment is over, Laura wanders about and then just happens to witness what looks like a rape.  Although the accused man, Jamie Balcombe, swears it’s not what it appears, the victim, Beth Taylor, is practically mute and in shock.  But Laura knows what she saw.  After Jamie is arrested and later convicted, an appreciative Beth moves in on Laura and Kit’s lives.  While showering them with gifts as a token of her gratitude, it isn’t long before Beth’s attitude changes.  Kit wants Beth out of their lives, while Laura wants to see the best in her.  However, Laura starts to see that Kit just might be right, so they go to great lengths to get away from Beth.

Fifteen years later, in 2015, Laura and Kit live in a new home and changed their names.  Laura is pregnant and Kit is preparing for his trip to see a new eclipse.  No matter, Beth couldn’t possibly find them.  They’ve been living as carefully as possible and have agreed to not have any social media accounts.  But why have they had to live this way?  And why do they still feel as if they’re being watched?

As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed, including some unexpected twists.

I enjoyed this story because each chapter made me wonder whose side I was going to take.  How far are people willing to go to save themselves?  And who was actually telling the truth?  With every surprise, I wasn’t quite sure whom to believe.  As for Beth and Jamie, was it rape or consent?  It gets interesting, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

He Said/She Said will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Erin Kelly has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. A regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Psychologies, Red, and Look, she has also written for Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour.  She also is the author of The Poison Tree and The Burning Air.

“Still Missing”–Review

51lenbozeel-_sx304_bo1204203200_The story begins with Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, who had three goals for the day: sell a home, forget about that trivial argument she had with her demanding mother, and to be home on time to have dinner with her boyfriend.  After a slow day at the open house, Annie starts packing up to prepare for an evening with her boyfriend, Luke.  Then a van pulls up in front of the house and a good-looking, friendly man steps out and approaches the house.  Although Annie was all ready to head out, she figured giving a last-minute potential buyer a tour of the place couldn’t hurt.

But that turned out to be a mistake.

The story alternates between the year Annie had spent in isolation with her captor and her sessions with her psychiatrist.  She goes into the details of her being beaten, raped, and controlled by a psychopath who apparently had plans for her, including her escape and the ongoing police investigations leading to the truth about Annie’s captor.

This book had one surprise after another and I think it was worth reading.  Just when it seemed as if everything were going to be all right, another twist occurred.  Annie was struggling to put her life back together, yet it never seemed to be over.  I was definitely hooked.  If you’re a fan of thrillers, this may be for you.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press for review purposes.

About the author: Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

You can also check out her page here.

“Behind Her Eyes”–Review

61gp9iiebal-_sx329_bo1204203200_David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling?

Louise is a single mom who has been in a rut since her divorce. One evening, at a bar, however, she meets an attractive man and they both hit it off. Even though they’d spent that evening only kissing, it was the first in a long time since Louise felt good about having someone touch her.

At the start of a new week, Louise begins her new secretary position at a psychiatrist’s office. And that’s when she meets her new boss, David: the man from the bar, who also happens to be married. Although they agree that their kiss was a mistake, neither one can stop thinking about the other.

When she least expects it, Louise bumps into Adele—David’s wife. Adele insists she’s new in town and seeking a friend. While guilt-ridden, Louise doesn’t feel right about accepting sweet Adele’s friendship.  However, the more time she spends with Adele, the more suspicious Louise becomes of Adele and David’s marriage. Adele doesn’t work.  She often appears anxious at certain hours when she’s expecting David’s phone calls. And her everyday routine is as if she has a curfew. And why is it that David never speaks of his marriage? And is David abusive, according to Adele?

While Louise struggles with her decision to tell David about her friendship with Adele, more strange behavior and secrets accumulate, putting the three of them at risk.  Because Louise constantly hears two sides to the stories, she realizes something isn’t right in this marriage and there seem to be more questions than answers. Although she’s advised to back off, Louise risks her life to get the answers she needs.

I think the storyline, itself, was pretty good. Each chapter speaks from Adele’s and Louise’s points of view, with the occasional chapters from Adele and David’s past. As for the ending, it did surprise me. To be honest, though, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole story. I didn’t love it, yet I didn’t hate it. I became curious about Adele’s plans and David’s reasons for his own behavior. Every chapter made me wonder whose side I should take. Even though there’s been a lot of hype about the ending, it just didn’t move me. But don’t let that discourage you from checking it out. You may enjoy it, perhaps.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Behind Her Eyes will be released on January 31, 2017.

About the author: Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development. Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in over 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist. Follow her on Twitter. You also can check out her page here.

“Freedom’s Child”–Review

Although Freedom Oliver is known as a fearless woman, a fighter, a woman who always keeps to herself, she is commonly 51HDms4gD0L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_known for her numerous arrests for public drunkenness every night, including causing any other commotions that get her into trouble.  Residing in a small town in Oregon, Freedom works at a local biker bar.  So far, that’s about all anyone in town knows about her.

What people aren’t supposed to know is that Freedom Oliver isn’t actually her name.  No one knows she’d served time in prison, 20 years ago, for murdering her husband, who was a cop.  No one knows she’d put up her two children for adoption, after her arrest, and that she’s in the Witness Protection Program.  For 20 years, Freedom has lived with her regrets, including her alcohol addiction and pill popping.

Later on, Freedom stumbles upon the news of her estranged daughter’s disappearance, which also has been an assumed kidnapping.  Determined to find her daughter and the truth, Freedom drops everything—including witness protection—hops on a motorcycle, and heads out to Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  During Freedom’s journey, she is haunted by her past.  She learns that her husband’s vengeful, sadistic family is out to get her.  Things get worse when she learns that her daughter’s adoptive family aren’t as warm and loving as they’ve always appeared.

Once I got to the middle of the book, I couldn’t really put it down.  The one thing I didn’t like, though, is that most of the chapters began with “My name is Freedom…” and so forth.  I was actually expecting a bit more scenes with Freedom and her in-laws, but it wasn’t so bad.  I liked the whole idea of her taking a big risk, of giving herself another chance in life, to become a parent again, after 20 years.  I’d recommend this book, especially for fans of thrillers.  As always, feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

About the author: Jax Miller was born and raised in New York and currently lives in Ireland.  In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger award for her first (unpublished) novel The Assassin’s Keeper, under the pseudonym Aine O Domhnaill.

FTC Disclosure: I received the book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

“Mother, Mother”–A Review

9780385347259_p0_v1_s260x420Meet Josephine Hurst, a mother of two beautiful daughters, an intelligent son, and her tech-guru husband, Douglas. As long as everything is under her control, Josephine’s family is picture perfect in their historical landmark home. The Hurst family couldn’t be anything below that. Keeping the entire family intact, however, isn’t an easy task for Josephine. Her controlling ways take a toll on the rest of the family when Josephine’s oldest daughter, Rose, runs away with a mysterious boyfriend. The Hurst home becomes a prison as the remaining family members continue to ask about Rose.
Tension continues to build as the youngest daughter, Violet—a Buddhist who has turned to Eastern philosophy—winds up in a psychiatric ward for her abusing hallucinogenic drugs. Violet’s brother, Will, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s. He also is homeschooled and in a world of self-doubt. The more time that he spends with his mother, the more he is unable to break free of the spell she has him under. Josephine’s husband, Douglas, is not only distant from the family, he is escaping his reality with alcohol.
Josephine does her best to keep the family struggles in the dark; however, when she receives a visit from Child Protective Services due to a violent incident, she works harder to make sure that the law is always on her side—no matter what the cost.
“Mother, Mother”—by Koren Zailckas—is a haunting story of family and a mother’s love that goes too far.
This story definitely was a nail-biter. Josephine’s character was convincing. I’d say that she’s the kind of person a reader could love to hate. She’s conniving, manipulative, and verbally abusive. Although the story didn’t end the way I’d hoped, I liked that it wasn’t too predictable. I was hoping for a little more; however, I think that it was worth reading. It was disturbing and I think that this is a great read for fans of psychological thrillers. Feel free to post your thoughts.
Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are based on my own experience.