Tag Archive | Mystery

Spotlight Tour: BUSTED by Gina Ciocca + GIVEAWAY

Busted Book Cover Busted
Gina Ciocca
YA Contemporary Romance
Sourcebooks Fire
January 2, 2018
E-ARC
352
NetGalley
December 13 - 16, 2017

Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby—until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!

Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation—and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…

Review

I loved this book! It’s been far too many books since I’ve had a YA in front of my eyes, and I’m so glad this was the one I picked up at this time.

Marisa, Charlie, TJ and even Nick were all great characters to read about. They all had their negative character traits and their positives, which made them feel very real. By the time I finished the book I was glad to have gone on this journey with them, but also sad to be saying goodbye. I want a sequel to read more about Marisa, but I don’t want any more bad to come to her, so… I guess I don’t want a sequel?

I loved how there were so many layers in this book. Anything could be a clue as to what the hell is ACTUALLY going on, and you just don’t know until you get to the end and realize the significance something you read earlier has.

I even loved Marisa’s parents. They were very cool and trusting parents.

It’s been… a few years… since I was in high school, and I just hope that not all high schools are full of such shitty boys like the two schools in this book! The good guys in this book certainly seemed to be the exception to the rule.

I would absolutely recommend this to teens and adults alike who are looking for a fun contemporary with a touch of romance and mystery. Nice work Ms. Ciocca, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!


Quotes

If I hadn’t been in line behind—what the hell was his name? Greg? George?—my double order of Sexual Chocolate (yes, really) and I would be on our way to Charlie’s house for a Saturday movie, gossip, and anti-nutrition night like so many other Saturday’s before.

 

Outing a scumbag felt more badass than anything I’d ever done—especially when I told her how I’d gotten the picture, and she looked at me like I’d parted the Red Sea.

 

And that’s when the bubble of positivity I’d been floating in since reconnecting with Kendall Keene in the parking lot bust like a microwaved marshmallow all over the room.

 

“I don’t know, Kendall,” I sighed into my cell phone. “This is different from what I’ve done before. You’re not asking me to follow him for a night or two. You’re basically asking me to stalk him. This feels… sneaky.”

“How is it any sneakier than trespassing on private property and aiming a camera inside someone’s living room?”

She had a point.

 

The word okay came out of my mouth, but in my mind it sounded a hell of a lot more like oh shit.

 

“When you care about someone, you don’t sneak around and do things that would hurt her if you did them o her face. You care about how your actions affect her.” I took a step toward him. “You don’t worry that the grass is greener in every goddamn yard but our own. You put her first once in a while instead of think about yourself all. The. Fucking. Time.”

 

He’d been rubbing his chin—which he still hadn’t shaved, and I wondered if i was specifically to drive me crazy.


Marisa’s Top 5 Tips For Sleuthing:

Hey there. Marisa Palmera, Private Eye here. Okay, so I don’t actually call myself that, and neither does anyone else. In fact, I never meant to become a sleuth-for-hire. But spend one night scaling your best-friend’s boyfriend’s house to take incriminating pictures, and suddenly everyone wants you to be something you’re not…and when they’re willing to line your sadly lacking pockets for it, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

So, should you find yourself an unwitting Girl Friday (or even a witting one… Is “witting” a thing?) like I did, here are some tips that just may save your butt:

  1. Always have a camera handy. Whether it’s your cell phone, or the fancy camera you borrowed from your school’s yearbook club, you never know when you’ll need to snap an evidence shot. Just, um, make sure you turn off the flash if said camera is aimed through a window into a dark living room. I may have learned this the hard way.
  2. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Sounds ominous and dramatic, I know. But if someone gives you the vibe that they shouldn’t be let out of your sight? GO WITH IT.
  3. Think fast. Suck at lying? Me too. Get over it, because you’ll be fudging the truth a lot.
  4. But know when to say no. Weave enough white lies, and suddenly they’re a sticky, tangled web with you trapped inside. Know when it’s time to run, and do it like the flames of hell are licking your feet.
  5. Don’t fall for the person you’re investigating. You’re just gonna have to do as I say and not as I do on this one. Oops.

Excerpt

My eyes darted from TJ’s dark, furrowed eyebrows to the logo on the left breast of his shirt and I sat up straighter.

“Um, where’d you get the Maple Acres shirt?”

His expression didn’t change. “Maple Acres.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Right. I meant, do you work there?”

“Yup.” He sat back in his chair and pulled at the logo, stretching the white cotton away from his chest before turning his attention back to the computer screen. “Long time now.”

As soon as he said it, my memory was triggered. I’d always thought he looked familiar but could never quite place where I’d seen him. As I thought back to every trip I’d taken to Maple Acres, twice a year since I was two years old, the image of a boy with dark curls stuffed beneath a knit cap and a heavy flannel coat that made him look like Paul Bunyan clicked into place. The farm stretched over two hundred and fifty acres, selling pumpkins and cider and offering hayrides and a corn maze in a fall, then Christmas trees that you cut down yourself in the winter. The place had a storybook quality to it that I loved, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out TJ was a part of it.

“We go there for our tree every year. I think I’ve seen you.”

TJ kept his eyes on the screen. “Probably. I’m usually bundling the trees or in the checkout area. Sometimes I drive the tractor for the hayrides.” He glanced over long enough to shoot me a half smile. “Maybe you’ve seen the back of my head.”

That would’ve been an occasion I definitely hadn’t noticed him. The one and only time I’d taken a hayride had been the lone trip I’d made without Charlie or my dad, both of whom are allergic to hay. I’d gone with Jordan. Superman himself could’ve been driving the tractor and I would’ve been too busy drooling over Jordan in his plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up around his gorgeous forearms to notice.

Vom, vom, vom. I pushed the chunks down and forged ahead. “So, that thing you didn’t want to do the last time we talked, is that… still an issue?”

“Uh, no. That fell through, so my article should be good to go on Monday.”

He’s not making this easy for me, that’s for sure.

“Take your time, really. I hope you didn’t cancel your plans because of me.”

He glanced over and gave me a wry smile. “No.”

“So, um, the tree farm. I go all the time.” I mentally slapped myself. Twice a year is all the time? “Do you live nearby?”

“You know the green colonial across the street behind the barn?”

“Uh huh.”

He smiled again. “That’s my house.”

“Wait, I thought the owners lived there.”

“They do. We have for my whole life.”

“Your family owns Maple Acres?” I blinked a few times, dumbfounded by my own dumbness.

“Well, co-owns. Have you seen the guy with the white hair who sneaks free gourds to all the little kids at Halloween? That’s my Uncle Roger. He’s there all the time, but my dad does more of the financial stuff.”

My face lit up. “That’s awesome! I love that place! I took a picture of the white barn from the top of the hill once and tried to sketch it. All the trees had snow on them, the sky was this amazing gray color and the pond was reflecting it” – I remembered mid-babble that I’d veered off course and reigned myself back in – “anyway, let’s just say it was magical, but drawing isn’t my strong suit. So, um, if you didn’t move, then why did you switch schools?”

TJ’s eyes slid back to the computer screen and his shoulder tensed ever so slightly, as if I’d brought up something he didn’t really want to talk about. Now I was getting somewhere.

“Our property is right at the intersection of three town lines. Technically, I could’ve gone to any one of the high schools.” He stabbed a few keys with his pointer finger, eliciting three clipped clicks. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore his jaw tightened. “I left Templeton because it was time for a change of scenery.”

“It must’ve been hard, though, transferring for your senior year.” And pretty odd, in my opinion. “I’m sure you had a lot of ties there.”

TJ’s fingers paused in mid-air over the keyboard and he looked at me. “Not that many.”

This time when he turned his attention back to the screen, I knew our conversation had ended. He ran a hand through his hair in a gesture that had a definite undertone of irritation. Whether it related to my question or some memory pertaining to the school, I couldn’t tell. But when I caught sight of the leather bracelet on his wrist, my desire to exclaim OMG THAT’S GORGEOUS WHERE DID YOU GET IT almost overruled my desire to ask what the hell his comment was supposed to mean. I’d been baiting him to say, “Yeah, my girlfriend goes there.” He hadn’t. What did that mean?

Maybe nothing.

But damn it all to hell, I suddenly had to know for sure.


The Author

Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood. Gina can also be found online at writersblog-gina.blogspot.com, on Instagram as gmciocca, and Twitter as gmc511.


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


My (Writing) Life

First things first….. PEACE IN FLAMES is available for preorder! I’m totally psyched about this because it’s my first solo release and the first completed project I’ve been proud of! Now I just need to finish my read through of the follow up novella, SUMMER OF PEACE, and send it off to my editor. That one will be available for public consumption in April.

Otherwise I’m working on a NA PNR, but I’ve hit a bit of a wall, so I may flip over to my YA contemporary romance instead. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot to ponder plot wise on both. (I’m still working on mastering that whole “outlining” thing. LOL)

In other news, I’m working on catching up on writing my last couple reviews from 2017. I’m hoping to post them ALL before the months end. I’m also at least halfway through two separate backlist titles for 2018 and the #BeatTheBacklist reading challenge, then I’ll jump into my NetGalley pile.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

REVIEW: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls Book Cover The Broken Girls
Simone St. James
Mystery, Suspense, Paranormal
Berkley
March 20, 2018
E-ARC
336
Penguin First Reads
November 12 - 23, 2017

A breakout suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare.

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

Review

BE STILL MY HEART!!!
If you read just ONE book in 2018, let it be THIS book!

I don’t even know where to begin with this. I finished reading just before Thanksgiving and I tried to tell my family how amazing this book was but I simply could NOT put all my feels into words to describe them! I’ll try my best here.

The Broken Girls is part ghost story, part mystery. It’s a dual timeline, which I loved, because every time we jumped to the other time period, I wanted to keep reading the timeline we had just left. Both story lines were equally compelling.

In 1950 we follow four boarding school girls, we know from the start of the book that one is murdered. Why we don’t know is which girl it is, why, and who did it. Was it the ghost? Was it one or all of the other girls? Another human? You’re literally guessing until almost the end.

Meanwhile, in 2014 we follow Fiona, a 30-something year old woman who’s life was torn asunder years ago when her sister was murdered and her body dumped on the property of the creepy boarding school. With the boarding school property purchased by a mysterious millionaire, Fiona—a journalist—sets out to write a story about the restoration… and maybe find a way to find closure with her own sisters murder.

This is a story filled to the brim with secrets. Every thread of this story is woven so intricately together that if you don’t read closely, you may miss a clue.

Seriously you guys, I can’t even. This book is everything. Upon finishing it, all I could think was, “Damn. I need to read EVERYTHING Simone St. James has ever written.”

Seriously. This is a must read. Though I received a digital ARC for free for review purposes, at some point I will probably go buy the actual book for my bookshelf to reread in the future.

 

I received a copy of this book from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.


Quotes

* Note: Whittling down the number of passages I highlighted to feature here was HARD. I had so many markups on my digital edition!
Also note these quotes were taken from an advanced copy and
may differ in the final book.

 

She’d always known the monsters were real.
And they were here.

 

“Fee, Fee.” He was clearly laughing at her now. “You’ve spent too long with that policeman of yours. The police don’t have all the answers, and neither does the government. The people are where you find things. Like those records you just found. The people are the ones who keep the memories and the records the powers that be would rather erase.

 

Why do I have the feeling you’re not home in bed right now? Fiona stopped, staring down at the words. How the hell did he know? She wiped tears of cold from her eyes and typed a reply. Wrong. I’m snug under my covers, asleep. His reply was immediate. Oh shit. Where are you?

 

“Anthony,” Fiona managed as they crossed the field. “I think I saw—”

But he tugged her, nearly unbalancing her, and suddenly she was so close her shoulder touched his. “Shh,” he said, his voice lowered. “Please don’t say it. I think she listens.”

 

Deb had been three years older, and Fiona had followed everything she did— she’d worn Deb’s hand‑me‑down clothes, her old shoes, her old winter jackets. She was quieter and more introverted than her outgoing sister, but she’d tried her best not to be. Deb had been a road map of what to be, and when she’d died, that road map had vanished, leaving Fiona adrift. For twenty years and counting.

 

Unable to help herself, she tugged on the first box sitting at eye level and hauled it out, placing it on the cold ground and popping the lid off. Inside were textbooks, old and yellowed. The top was titled Latin Grammar for Girls .

Jamie read the title over her shoulder. “The good old days,” he commented, “when apparently Latin was different if you were a girl.”

 

Sonia laughed, though it was a painful story. She knew that laughing at it was one of Katie’s weapons, a way for her to make the experience smaller, easier to manage.

 

Mary knew everything. Mary saw everything. Everything. Even the things you didn’t say to yourself, deep in your own mind, ever.


My (Writing) Life

We survived Christmas!

Well, mostly. The family spoils my kids so much that it looks like a toy store blew up in my living room and kitchen. I’ve got them doing some organizing their toys right now, but they’re mostly whining and throwing fits. Is it time for them to go back to school yet??? (Parents who homeschool must have infinite patience!)

I had a wonderful holiday, spent lots of time with all of my family, and gave and received all sorts of wonderful gifts. Some highlights: My kids are beyond thrilled to finally own Minecraft, no longer limited to the hour long demo that doesn’t save their progress. Hubby received some delicious Pecan Canadian Whisky and a heater for the garage. And I received a beautiful tea box for all my tea bags, season 2 of Outlander, and a design tablet for my computer. I spent four hours yesterday evening putzing around on the computer and training myself to use the stylus instead of the mouse. I’m far from a professional with the stylus, but I’m getting better. Plus, last night I created a layer mask on a book cover I’m designing in Photoshop and it was the easiest – and quickest! – layer mask today. Also the most accurate. I think I’m in love.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well.

Now though, I’m ready for life to go back to normal. However if there’s one really good thing that came from the holiday season it was that it forced me to post a whole bunch of reviews (for the 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge) and now I’m sort of in the habit of posting a review a day. I MIGHT CATCH UP ON MY BOOK REVIEW POSTINGS BEFORE JANUARY!!!

Alright, I’ve got kids to wrangle, a house to clean up, laundry to wash, and a headache to boot.

Until next time! (When maybe I’ll even have some writing updates???)

 

REVIEW: The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen

The Ghost of Christmas Past Book Cover The Ghost of Christmas Past
Molly Murphy Mysteries #17
Rhys Bowen
Historical, Mystery
Minotaur Books
November 14, 2017
E-ARC
272
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
November 2 - 12, 2017

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple's young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother's pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. "I'm Charlotte," she says. "I've come home."

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my FOURTH contribution and I’m excited to share reviews for twelve holiday books over the next coming weeks.

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge


REVIEW

I snagged this book from NetGalley because I was determined to do this 12 Books of Christmas series of reviews. I wasn’t too discriminating because I was desperate for holiday books. I like mysteries and I mostly like historical, so I was optimistic about this book.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize this was the 17th book in this series! I had a hard time connecting with the characters and I imagine part of that is because most readers who pick up this book will have already had 16 mysteries solved with Molly Murphy.

The pacing was my biggest problem. The beginning was very slow for me, introducing characters. By the time they reached the destination where the mystery occurs I was contemplating DNFing this book. I stayed with it and by 30% I’d solved part of the mystery and my theory on “whodunit” proved right as well.

All that said, once the ball got going I did find myself enjoying many aspects of the story. I was still a little disappointed that I figured it out so early, but by that point I was determined to keep reading in the hopes of it being a red herring.

Part of my problem with this book might be the fact that everything sounded so stiff. It’s historical, so it fits, but I struggled with it in this context. Other readers of historical’s and mysteries might not have the problems I had.

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT?  While you can jump into this book not having read any other Molly Murphy Mysteries, this reader would advise starting at the beginning if you enjoy historical mysteries with strong female leads.

 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Quotes

“What on earth could a bunch of women find to talk about until after eleven?” Daniel asked, going over to the basin at the washstand to shave.

“Plenty,” I said, “We were scheming and plotting all evening how to disrupt the workings of the government in New York. We thought we might kidnap the mayor.

He turned back to me, a horrified look on his face. “You can’t be serious!”

 

“I think you should leave it, Molly. A good detective relies on facts, not flights of fancy and not besmirching characters without any modicum of proof.”


My (Writing) Life

It’s the holidays so life is hectic. Lots going on. Trying to keep my head above water. The usual!

I downloaded a new task manager app. It’s pretty awesome because it’s part task manager/part game. It’s called Habitica and if you don’t complete your tasks your little 8-bit character loses health. When you do complete your tasks you gain XP. As you level you unlock more items/features. The Husband and I both have it and we’re going to set the kids up with it soon as well. Maybe this will entice them to get their every day things done!

As far as writing, I’m going to start sending PEACE IN FLAMES out to reviewers SOON. So that’s exciting. The February release will be here before I know it! I’m also doing really well on SUMMER OF PEACE. I’m in the 18k range with a target goal of at least 20k, so that’s good. We’ll see what can be added/fluffed and fixed in the first round of edits soon!

My other writing projects are benched for the moment while I work on getting SUMMER completed. I’m hoping I’ll be able to dive back into SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT shortly after the new year. I’ll probably take a little break after that book to go back to my urban fantasy BLOOD & MAGIC, which needs to be completely restructured and rewritten. I’m both excited for and dreading that! Mostly I’m excited though.

So yeah, that’s what’s going on!

REVIEW: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Watch Me Disappear Book Cover Watch Me Disappear
Janelle Brown
Mystery
Spiegel & Grau
July 11, 2017
E-ARC
368
NetGalley
July 3-10, 2017

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

My Review

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I started this book I thought I would hate it. I didn’t care for the narration style. But as I continued to read I found myself growing more and more invested in the mystery. Was Olive really psychic and seeing real visions of her mother? Did Billie fake her death? Was she kidnapped? Murdered? Did she really just fall into a ravine or something equally as tragic and awful while off hiking alone in the woods?

The theories were circling through my head the entire time I read this story. By the time I got to the epilogue, I had to pull my jaw off the ground. Janelle Brown really hit the nail on the head with this amazing ending.

The real central theme of this book is, can you really know someone? Really truly know the real them, not just the mask they wear for the people around them? As Jonathan and Olive dig into Billie’s life and her past, that question begins to really take over Jonathan’s thought process. As he attempts to write the love story he shared with his wife, before her death a year earlier. As he attempts to have her officially, legally, declared dead so he and his daughter can move on. As he begins to dig up more and more of Billie’s secrets…

I really don’t even know what to say in this review because everything I want to gush about will ruin everything for anyone who hasn’t read this book.

I haven’t read a lot of mysteries, but this is one of the better ones I have read and I’d rank Watch Me Disappear one almost as high as Gone Girl.

Should you read it? If you like book that keeps you guessing until the last page, THIS is the book for you!!!


Quotes

You don’t realize how much you’ll miss the asphyxiating intimacy of early parenthood until you can finally breathe again.

 

“Stop it, Olive. This isn’t healthy. Your mother is gone. Dead,” he snaps before he can stop himself. Immediately, he is stricken with remorse.

 

He used to feel like there was something of the sea hidden inside her; something wild and unfathomable.

 

She would soak up her mother’s stories about her own Lost Years—the decade during which Billie, a teenage runaway, had roamed around the Pacific Northwest and then travelled the world, hanging out with artists and activists and drug dealers—and would sense that she was failing her mother in some way. “Anyway, you didn’t want to do what I did,” Billie would say, abruptly cutting herself off, but somehow Olive knew she meant the exact opposite.

 

…the world is so vast and so beautiful and so forever—and then she remembers that she is supposed to be sad, too. How can she feel both of these things at once? The loveliness of being alive and the knowledge that it can never last?

 

There’s no rational explanation for his wife being alive that doesn’t point to her being some kind of monster. And he’s not ready to change the point of view of his entire life’s story.

 

And yet how can you ever really know the truth about another person? We all write our own narratives about the people we know and love, he realizes. We choose the story that is easiest to tell, the one that best fits our own vision for our lives. We define them in the way that’s most convenient for our own sense of self-aggrandizement. Glossing over anything that doesn’t fit into the neat little narrative because we don’t want the whole fiction to fall apart.

 

Only someone fearful of his own ordinariness would buy, so unquestioningly, someone else’s extraordinariness.

 

If I dig back far enough in Billie’s history, will I finally find someone who knows what was really going on inside her?

 

You believe what you think you believe, until suddenly, you realize that you don’t anymore. Or maybe you do believe, but it’s no longer convenient to do so, so you decide to forget. You decide to find other beliefs, ones that more comfortably fit the constant evolving puzzle of your life.

REVIEW: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Read: April 12 – May 3, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Broadway Books

Release Date: May 24, 2012

Genre: Mystery / Psychological Thriller

Pages: 555

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017


ABOUT THE BOOK

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?


REVIEW

I don’t remember how the topic of this book came about, but my co-worker Jess and I somehow ended up talking about this book one day at work. She said she owned it, but still hadn’t read it, but loved the movie. I told her I hadn’t seen the movie OR read the book, and I really wanted to. So, she brought the book to work and loaned it to me. And I devoured it as quickly as I could. Way too many late nights were spent reading this book. But it was so worth it.

So, if you’ve been living under a rock (as I was) and don’t really know what this book is about, except that it’s absolutely mind-blowing, then I’ll just tell you this:

Nick’s wife Amy disappears. He’s the prime suspect. But did he do it? Did he?

This book is literally mind-blowing. I was constantly texting my co-worker with each new theory I had for what happened to Amy. I can’t even count the number of times I changed my mind.

And the actual ending? Yep, mind-blowing. Like… WHAT? Did that seriously happen?

This review is not going to contain spoilers so, I mean, I literally can’t say much else. I will say this though, this book was amazing. Truly amazing. And this is coming from someone who really doesn’t enjoy reading “grown up” books.

The only reason I knocked half a star off was because the beginning was a little slow and because of the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the ending, but I feel like it went on a little too long. I feel like the author gave the reader too much of an ending, if that makes sense.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

My wife loved games, mostly mind games.


It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just getting started.


Just like he jettisoned his parents when they were of no use to him, he’s dropping me because I don’t fit in his new life here.


Right now,
I thought, I am a man who loves his wife and will find her. I am a man who loves his wife, and I am the good guy.

 

REVIEW: Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Series: Follow Me Back #1

Read: January 15 – 17, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: June 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 368

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Words cannot epitomize the epicness of this book. My mind still reels every time I think of it!

Girl (Tessa Hart) has something bad happen to her. Girl becomes agoraphobic. Girl turns to obsessing over a super hot singer boy (Eric Thorn), following him on Twitter. Without intending to, girl starts a hashtag trend about boy.

Boy has his own issues. Sees the hashtag and who started it. Creates fake twitter. Trolls girl. Somehow ends up in a friendship with girl. Together they share a deep personal connection, even though they’ve never seen each other and she doesn’t know his true identity.

This book is all kinds of epic. We get to experience the cliched fangirl and her celeb crush fall in love scenario but in a completely unique and twisted way that is 100% awesome and only about .05% cheesy, but good cheese, like Asiago.

I love how the author dropped little clues as the story went on as to exactly what happened to Tessa that resulted in her agoraphobia.

I loved the twisted, twisted ending! At about 67% I was CONVINCED I knew whodunnit. Then TWIST!

The absolute end… this is a cliffhanger done right. I wanted to throw my book at the wall, but I love books too much to hurt them, and besides I read on my Kindle and that’s an expensive book to break. Instead I sat in shocked silence, gaping at the screen, cursing myself for reading so soon before the release date and therefor the sequels release date.

I seriously can’t even talk about all the intense amazing things that happen because it would totally ruin the story for anyone who has not yet read this.

THE ENDING YOU GUYS! This is the kind of book that ends and you desperately search Goodreads for a friend who has also read it so you can share your freak out with someone. Alas, none of my friends have read this yet, so if you have, contact me and we can freak out together!

 

Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK! This is one of my top picks of 2017.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES
~ From an advanced release copy. Actual text in final copy may vary. ~

“Have you seen TMZ? It’s like fan fiction but less believable.”


“You smell like a zoo animal, by the way. Did you shower?”
“Body Odor isn’t in the contract,” Eric said dryly.

He’d slipped into attack mode so easily. It was just Twitter after all. Just words. Not real.

She could do the front stoop. She must have run down those steps a million times over the course of her childhood. She just needed to shut her mind off. Focus on the task at hand. Her mother reached for the door, but she stopped and stepped aside. She knew the drill. The two of them had been doing these desensitization exercises for weeks now. It was Tessa’s job to open the door herself.


He paused and swallowed hard against the lump inside his throat. “Please, just this once. Just let me be the guy that takes you home.”


There was a pain in his chest—the last ember of a fire that hadn’t quite died. He had to give it one more try before the flame went out for good.


His fingers were freezing, but his lips melted a path straight through her icy core. She felt a crack in the numb exterior—a fissure that slowly spread until she crumbled.

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut suspense takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.


REVIEW

Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.

 

Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.

As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.

One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.

The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)

Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!

I’ll sum it up this way – for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking – YES.

 

 I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

I’m an idiot and accidentally deleted all of my quotes from my phone! Yikes!

 

REVIEW: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Read: December 6 – 11

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: YA Mystery / Psychological Thriller

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some secrets are worth killing to protect.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, not that she cares what anyone thinks. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable. All they need is each other. That is, until Zachary Zimmerman joins her homeroom. Within an hour of meeting, he convinces good-girl Vic to cut class. And she can’t get enough of that rush.

Despite Vic’s loyalty to Andrew, she finds her life slowly entwining with Z’s. Soon she’s lying to everyone she knows and breaking all the rules to be with Z. She can’t get enough of him—or unraveling the stories of the family he’s determined to keep hidden.

Except Z’s not the only one with a past. Straight-laced Vic is hiding her own secrets…secrets that are about to destroy everything in her path.


REVIEW

I have a love/hate relationship with this book.

Basic gist: Vic tells the story to her boyfriend, Andrew, all about how she cheated on him, falling for the new guy at school, Z. The ending is OUT THERE. If you don’t read books because of cheating, don’t count this one out for that reason. Seriously.

What I loved:
I loved the bits of interviews, newspaper articles, and so on that preceded each chapter. They were little clues to the end game that kept me invested in the story, needing to know what happened. I loved that, until almost the final chapter, I had no clue where this was going. I didn’t even know who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. I loved that it kept me guessing.

What I didn’t care for:
I wasn’t really invested in the day to day play-by-play that Vic was giving us. It bored me a little. I didn’t like the decisions she made, though I understand that’s part of her character, and I don’t knock stars for that. I just didn’t like some of the things she did. Actually, aside from her stupid decisions, I can kind of relate to Vic. She feels like an outsider, doesn’t really feel like she belongs and can’t connect to her peers. Gosh, that was me in high school!

As I read books I tend to have a star rating in mind, this one jumped quickly from about a 2 up to a 3.5. This is the kind of book that seemed, to me, tedious as I read it. But when I read that ending? Wow. Blew me away. I actually didn’t quite understand what was happening until it was happening. Suddenly I was backpedaling, saying, WAIT! WHAT??? Yeah, it was good. So trippy.

So, do I recommend this book? Yes. But go into this knowing that the pacing is slow and steady, the clues are there, but you’re unlikely to put it together until the very end. And you’ll probably keep thinking about the story afterward, I know I did!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Get the Unnatural Deeds here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

Who knew that my boyfriend, quiet, unassuming Andrew Quinn, had that in him.
I thought I knew you inside and out, but… I was wrong.

I breathed in. Breathed out. Prayed to the Effexor gods. Tried to remember what that therapist had said last year before my parents’ insurance ran out and they couldn’t afford to send me. Control. You have the control. Visualize.

I hardly knew him, and already I hated to disappoint him. Because that’s hat my story was: disappointing.

“You’re unpredictable so people won’t figure you out. That’s your big fear, isn’t it? You don’t want anyone too close to you. Because the people closest to you have all let you down. And you’re afraid of being let down again.”
Z looked into my eyes. “See? You…you get me.”

Somehow, I’d thought that being Z’s friend would make me visible. That being next to him would finally put me on the nap and make people who once detested or ignored me give me a second chance.
So far, that was not the case.

But Z had a way of making any proposition appealing. Venturing out in frigid temperatures? Sure. Snorkeling with sharks? Awesome.

“You and me. We’re both so fucked up, so afraid that one wrong move will send the house of cards crumbling to the ground. I get you, all right? That’s what I mean.”

But that was Z. He thrived on danger. I sure didn’t.

 

REVIEW: Arrowood by Laura McHugh

 

arrowood

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Read: November 20 – 24, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)

Genre: Mystery

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.


REVIEW

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Arrowood is sort of difficult for me to review. I liked it, but for the most part I wasn’t left with the OMG I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT feeling.

Part mystery, part ghost story, Arrowood is the story of Arden Arrowood. After the loss of her two year old twin sisters when she was just eight years old, she’s spent the last twenty years stumbling through life. I don’t want to say too much, but the disappearance of her sisters set the stage for her entire life.

What was cool about this story was that it was a ghost story, without being a ghost story. There are no actual ghosts or paranormal investigators looking for cold spots, but there are plenty of spooky happenstances that occur in the house which the reader is led to believe is the work of ghosts. That was pretty cool. The reader can decide if ghosts are at work or not.

As far as the mystery, as we get to know Arden and the cast of characters around her, everyone becomes a suspect. There were so many red herrings, any one of them could have done it. I was actually surprised by the actual ending – and it’s a doozey of an ending!

I wish I could pinpoint exactly what wasn’t working for me. It could be all of the time Arden spent reflecting on her past. I like a book to be told in the present, but a lot of this book was Arden reflecting on her childhood friendships, the loss of her sisters, her time at college, and so on. Every scene was important to the story, and I can’t think of another way to get the information across, but I think it pulled this readers attention away from the book at times.

In the end, I did enjoy this story but I don’t think it’s going to be one that stays with me long after I’ve read it.

END NOTE: I think this would be a really interesting book for a book club to discuss. In fact, I sort of wish now that I belonged to a book club so we could dissect this book as a group!


Get the Arrowood here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

I worried that the old me would vanish if there was no one left to confirm her existence.

I wished that I had been taken, too, so they wouldn’t have been alone. Instead, I was left behind and they went on without me, their lives from that moment a whispered secret that would never reach my ears.

It’s a date, I typed. Moments after clicking Sent, I had texter’s remorse. Should I have phrased it differently?

Darkness was kind, cloaking disappointing truths in mystery.

It didn’t feel right to move forward, to be happy and fall in love, to fill in the empty spaces, and so I had stood still and saved their place while the rest of the world moved on.

 

 

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

 Read: October 2 – 5, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

One Was Lost is my second Natalie D. Richard’s novel and will not be my last.

First – look at that cover! That screams thriller. I actually get kind of a Blair Witch vibe from it, which isn’t too far off the mark. The basic premise is a group of kids (and two teachers) lost in the woods with a killer on the loose. They’re drugged, wake to have words written on their arms, and nobody knows who to trust.

The way this book starts, we’re thrown into the story. Sera is on a “Senior Life Experience” camping trip with 4 classmates and two teachers. Early on the group gets separated, leaving Sera with Mr. Walker (a teacher), Emily (a girl with unexplained bruises), Jude (a rich boy with a set of gay dads and a chip on his shoulder), and Lucas (the boy Sera has history with, that she’s been trying to avoid for months). In the other group are Ms. Brightman (another teacher), and Madison and Hayley, who are sort of interchangeable to Sera.

Richards doesn’t info dump like a lot of authors do, spending pages at the beginning explaining backstory and characterization. Instead, we’re thrown in with these kids and slowly get to know them over the course of the novel. Immediately we know how Sera feels about each of her classmates, though we don’t really know the why’s just yet. It isn’t until the end of the book that I really understood all of the characters. By the end I’d also felt like I experienced this ordeal with them, and it was interesting to see how their experiences changed them.

The mystery in this novel is awesome. Just like the kids in the book, I had multiple suspects in mind as I read through. My theories of whodunnit fell on each of the students and teachers in turn, and even at one point went to, “this is all planned by the teachers to mess with the kids.”

I think this story possibly could have benefited from starting a touch sooner, to include the ghost stories told around the campfire that are mentioned throughout the story, but we as the reader didn’t experience. But I really don’t think the story lacked anything not including that scene. It just would have been nice to have more “on camera” time with the other group who Sera is separated from early on.

As with the previous Richards book I read, My Secret To Tell, she shines at characterization. She throws little pieces of the characters back story at the reader, giving them time to absorb before handing over another piece of the story. We know from the beginning that Sera’s mom left, but it isn’t until the end that we know why. We know Sera has a history with Lucas, but we don’t know what that history entails and who was at fault. By the end I completely understood Sera and why she acted the way she did throughout the story, and I appreciated where her character development left her by the last page.

I also give props to Richards for including a diverse cast. Sera is Lebanese. I believe Jude is African American, and Emily may be non-caucasisian as well. The way Richards writes, skin color is not a top priority. The characters are just people, three-dimensional characters. Sera may not be of European descent like me, but I could put myself in her shoes and relate to her.

Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This is a fast paced, mystery thriller with well-defined characters. I know I’ll be getting my hands on the rest of Natalie D. Richard’s publications.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

(RE: Lucas’ height) I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

 

Whatever script we’re following out in these woods—this is my role… and I’m supposed to die out here.

 

Something snaps in the distance, and I flinch, scanning the darkness. Leaves rustle, and then I hear the scrabble of tiny claws on a trunk.

 

Nothing has ever hurt like the peroxide he pours over my hand. It hits my tender flesh like lava, flashfire painful and leaving a loud throb in its place.

 

…thinks he’s guilty because I kissed him? My desire did this. I followed my heart, and it might kill him.

 

I close my eyes and feel my heart slow even as my stomach rolls. A mourning dove coos softly. Sadly. Rain drips. My hand burns. Nothing is different, and nothing is the same either.

 

I went sixty-two days without looking at him after the first time we kissed, but that was then. And now it is very different.