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Thriller Thursday Reviews: A Slow Fire Burning & Where I Left Her

 

Happy Thriller Thursday! Sharon here. I hope everyone is having a great week and getting ready for the holidays. And what better way to say Happy Holidays than some thriller reviews LOL. This week I am happy to share my thoughts on Paula Hawkins’ new book; A Slow Fire Burning and Amber Garza’s new book; Where I Left Her.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: A Slow Fire Burning & Where I Left HerA Slow Fire Burning Goodreads

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Paula Hawkins’ new book A Slow Fire Burning is a very accurate title, as this book was a slow burn.

Daniel Sutherland is found murdered on his houseboat. Three women are at the center of the investigation and they each have a complicated connection to Daniel. Laura is a troubled young woman who had a one-night stand. Carla is Daniel’s aunt, and she has a very complicated relationship with him dating back to when he was a child. And then we have Miriam, she lives in a houseboat next to Daniel. Each one of these women have had their lives turned upside down in the past, but are they capable of murder? And if they are, why murder Daniel?

My favorite character was Laura. She was in an accident when she was ten and it left her with both physical and emotional issues. The accident also left her with some damage to her brain, which causes her to lash out when she is pushed, as well as memory issues and pretty much doing or saying anything. The filter to determine right from wrong is not always there.  The accident also left one of her legs badly damaged, so she has a very distinct limp.  Add to this the fact that she has parents who are not supportive of her at all. Her mother is off traveling with her boyfriend and never has time to talk to Laura and her father has a new wife who does not like Laura at all and keeps her father away from her as much as possible.   The more I learned about Laura, the more I just wanted to hug her and keep her safe. I was so hoping that it was not Laura who murdered Daniel.

Miriam was a hard character to connect to. I did have sympathy for her due to the fact that she was the survivor of a kidnapping attack in which her best friend was killed when they were teenagers.  Miriam also has a grudge against Daniel’s uncle. She gave him a manuscript to read that she had written, and he ended up publishing it as his own. Is Daniel’s murder part of a revenge plot?

Carla is the sister of Daniel’s mother, Angela.  Angela died six months ago after falling down a flight of stairs in her home.  Angela died and now Daniel is dead, so right there flags went up for me. Especially after I learned that Carla’s son died in a tragic accident when he was a toddler and Angela was babysitting him.  I did have a lot of sympathy for Carla, once I learned of the death of her son and how it affected her life and also her relationship with her sister and nephew.

We really don’t get a lot of backstory on Daniel as an adult, so to me he was just a dead guy. LOL

The actual police investigation took more of a backseat in my opinion. The beginning of this book was a bit slow, but by the second half it picked up as a few twists were thrown in. All in all I did not see the outcome coming and was pleased with how it all wrapped up.   3 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: A Slow Fire Burning & Where I Left HerWhere I Left Her Goodreads

Author: Amber Garza

Publication Date: August 24, 2021

Publisher: Mira Books

Where I left Her by Amber Garza is an addicting thriller about every parents’ worst nightmare, the disappearance of their teenage daughter.

Whitney and her 16-year-old daughter Amelia have always had a close relationship, that is until recently. Whitney is an overprotective mother and Amelia has started to push away and assert her independence. Whitney reluctantly lets Amelia go to a sleep over at her new friend Lauren’s house. When she drops her off out front, she sees Lauren answer the door and the two girls go in the house.  But when she goes to pick her up the next morning, Amelia and Lauren are not there. In fact, the older couple that answer the door say they do not know who Amelia and Lauren are. As Whitney starts her search for Amelia, she uncovers a trail of lies her daughter has told her. She soon realizes that she did not know her daughter as well as she thought. But Amelia is not the only one keeping secrets; Whitney has a closet full of them. But are they the reason Amelia is missing?

I thought Garza did a great job on writing the mother/daughter dynamic. Everything that Whitney and Amelia were doing and saying just felt so realistic. There comes a time in every girl’s life when she pushes her mother away a bit and becomes more independent. Just thinking back on my teenage years, I could totally relate to Amelia. And while I do not have children myself, I could also feel the sadness Whitney felt from Amelia’s actions.

The story is told using a dual timeline, alternating between “after drop off” and “before drop off”.  I love dual timelines. I love getting a look at what is going on now, and then learning of events that happened and trying to piece them all together.  We also get some chapters from when Whitney was a teenager, and we see the similarities between Whitney and her best friend and Amelia and Lauren.  From Whitney’s teenage years we also learn what secrets she is holding. I don’t want to say too much about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

Where I left Her was a very even paced book and while not filled with edge of my seat tension, I was still glued to the pages because I had to know what happened to Amelia. And boy, I so did not have that figured out. From Whitney’s chapters I thought I knew where things may be going but I was way off base. And then once all was revealed, along comes a plot twist that leaves the book sort of open ended. Makes me wonder if there will be a sequel to come. I would not be opposed to that. LOL   3 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Midnight Man & The Wife Upstairs

 

I’m back!! That’s right, Sharon here with another edition of Thriller Thursday. Sorry that I have missed a few Thriller Thursday weeks, life just got in the way. But I was on vacation from work last week (well a staycation 🙂 ) and was able to relax, clear my head, and regroup. So today I am excited to share my thoughts on the spooky thriller The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell and Freida McFadden’s psychological thriller, The Wife Upstairs.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Midnight Man & The Wife UpstairsThe Midnight Man (Slayton Thrillers, #1) Goodreads

Author: Caroline Mitchell

Publication Date: October 13, 2021

Publisher: Embla Books

“If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…” As soon as I read that line in the synopsis for Caroline Mitchell’s The Midnight Man, I knew I had to read it. And I am glad I did. The Midnight Man was a spooky read with twists and turns and I didn’t figure anything out until the end.

Twenty-five years ago, Nigel Middleton shot and killed his wife, his 14 year old daughter and 4 year old son before turning the gun on himself. Ever since then their home, Blackhall Manor, has stood vacant and decaying.  Fast forward to the present and it is Halloween night. Five teenage girls have been invited to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Man game, but only 4 of the girls make it home. The fifth girl Angelica is found brutally murdered and unfortunately for the other 4 girls, the game is still being played and their lives are in jeopardy.

Detective Sarah Noble has been on leave from the police force for about a year following a scandal involving her husband. Sarah grew up in the small town of Slayton and she more than anyone knows all about the hidden dangers of Blackhall Manor. As she is interviewing witnesses to try and find Angelica’s killer, it starts to become clear that Sarah’s past is coming back to haunt her and she is the killer’s real target.

I really wish I could say more about this book, but I feel that anything I say will spoil things. The story is told from the POV of Sarah and The Midnight Man. Getting the POV of the Midnight Man gave this book a really creepy vibe. I loved reading his thoughts as he observed Sarah and the investigation. I got the chills and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up a few times when reading his POV.

I really liked Sarah; she was a very sympathetic character. She has been through a lot in her life, starting when she was a teenager and then with the scandal involving her husband. The more I learned of her backstory and all that she has been through and overcome, I couldn’t help but root for her to solve this case and put all her demons behind her.

I also really liked the secondary characters we get to meet as Sarah is conducting her investigation. Especially 7 year old Elliot, who has the ability to sense things and is able to help Sarah track down one of the girls that goes missing. I just wanted to hug Elliot, he reminded me of the boy from The Sixth Sense and The Ring.

The Midnight Man is a very eerie and spooky story.  From the very first page, which gave me an Amityville Horror vibe, I was glued to this book and couldn’t stop turning the pages. Caroline Mitchell gives us a well written story with characters that are very well developed. The Midnight Man is the first book in the Slayton Thrillers series and I cannot wait to see what Mitchell has in store for the next book. 4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Midnight Man & The Wife UpstairsThe Wife Upstairs: Goodreads

Author: Freida McFadden

Publication Date: May 12th, 2020

Publisher: Dreamscape Media

Freida McFadden’s new book The Wife Upstairs follows Victoria Barnett and Sylvia Robinson.   Victoria has it all, a loving and handsome husband, a job she loves and a beautiful home. But then she has an accident that leaves her unable to feed or dress herself, unable to walk and with only limited speech. She is confined to a room in her home and needs 24 hour care. Enter Sylvia, who has been hired by Victoria’s husband, Adam, to care for her. Victoria has a story to tell but cannot get the words out. Thankfully, she has kept a diary that Sylvia finds and what she reads inside is shocking.

When we first meet Sylvia, she is down on her luck. She has broken up with her boyfriend, is unemployed, and is about to be evicted from her home. A chance meeting with Adam Barnett is about to change all that for Sylvia though. She thinks her luck has finally changed, but little does Sylvia know that moving in to help take care of Victoria has possibly put her own life in jeopardy.

I love how McFadden told this story from Sylvia’s POV and also through Victoria’s diary. It made me not trust anything or anyone. From Sylvia’s perspective, Adam seems to be a very loving and caring husband who would do anything to help his wife. But then we read Victoria’s diary and the man she writes about is not the man we are seeing through Sylvia’s eyes. According to Victoria, Adam started off as loving but once they married, he turned into a very mean man. He never physically harmed her, but he did mentally.

I was all over the place on who I trusted and who I thought was telling the truth. The more we got into Victoria’s diary, the more I suspected that Adam was responsible for her accident. Sylvia was coming to the same conclusion, but when she talked to the housekeeper about Adam and Victoria, she gave a very different perspective on their lives. According to the housekeeper it was Victoria who was the aggressor in their marriage and she was the one that was mentally abusing Adam. I didn’t know who to believe, which is what I love in a psychological thriller.

As it got closer to the end the tension really picked up and just when I thought I may have things figured out, Plot Twist! And then right at the end there was another plot twist that I did not see coming.

With so many twists and turns, I cannot say that I really loved any of the characters. How can you when you don’t really trust them? LOL. Sylvia made a few questionable choices, but I did like that she was determined to figure out what went on and who was to blame. I did have sympathy for Victoria, because she was stuck in that house and her only way to communicate was through what she had written in her diary.

If you like psychological thrillers that keep you guessing, I recommend you read Freida McFadden’s The Wife Upstairs.     4 stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Minders & The Good Lie

 

Happy Thriller Thursday everyone! Sharon here and I know the spooky season is technically over. But is it ever really over? LOL!  This week I am happy to share my thoughts on John Marrs’ new thriller The Minders and A.R. Torre’s new thriller The Good Lie. Both of these books came out earlier this year and I cannot believe I left them sitting on my shelf for so long before I read them. These were both amazing reads.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Minders & The Good LieThe Minders Goodreads

Author: John Marrs

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

I have become such a fan of John Marrs. His books are unique and always keep me turning the pages. When I read the synopsis for The Minders I knew that John Marrs was going to deliver another book that kept me on the edge of my seat, and I am happy to report that he did just that.

The Minders is set in the UK and a group of hackers has been cyber terrorizing the world. Almost every country has been brought to its knees by a group called the Collective Hackers. In order to protect the UK’s most secret information, the government has come up with a plan that would take all their information offline and turn it into a genetic code that is implanted into the minds of five individuals. These individuals are known as The Minders and they know every secret of the UK. Once selected, the Minders are given a new location and unlimited funds to start their life over. But someone has discovered who these Minders are and are hunting them down.

There is not a lot I can say about this book without spoiling everything. What I can say is that as always Marrs kept me glued to the pages as the tension and suspense mounted as the book progressed. He also created characters that I grew attached to and worried for their wellbeing.

The book is told from the POV of the five Minders: Flick, Charlie, Bruno, Sinead, and Emilia. Marrs did a great job of bringing these characters to life and making them jump off the pages. I really enjoyed getting to know them and learning their back stories as well as how they were living their lives as Minders. Some were having a much easier time than others and I was very invested in how they were all dealing with everything that was going on.

While I liked all of the characters, Flick was my favorite. She has closed herself off from her family and friends after she found out that her DNA Match was a serial killer. She became a recluse who would not leave her house unless it was necessary. So, when given the chance to start her life over again she jumped at it.  I really enjoyed watching Flick come out of the shell she put herself into. Watching her interact with people and actually make friends brought a smile to my face. I really was hoping that she would make it through this and be able to be happy.

We find out early in the book who is hunting the Minders, but in no way did that take away from the suspense. While we may know who is doing the hunting and the reason why, there is a nice twist that takes place that throws the reason why right out the window. And even though I kind of suspected the twist, I was still blown away by it.

The Minders is a tension filled book that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.  While this book can be read as a standalone there are references to two other Marrs’ books, The One and The Passengers. Marrs did a great job of explaining these references, so I don’t think it takes anything away if you have not read them, but I highly recommend them as well as The Minders.  4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Minders & The Good LieThe Good Lie Goodreads

Author: A.R. Torre

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

When I read the synopsis for A.R. Torre’s new book, The Good Lie, and it stated that a defensive attorney was representing the man accused of killing his son, I had to read it. I had so many questions. Why would he do that? Does he have an alterative motive? Is this man really innocent? Torre give us the answers to those questions and so many more in this addictive read.

There is a serial killer in California known as the Bloody Heart Killer. He targets seventeen year old boys from well-to-do families. He kidnaps them, holds and tortures them for two months, then kills them and dumps their bodies, leaving a heart carved into their chest. He has had six victims and is currently holding his seventh. Scott Harden is the seventh victim, but he somehow escapes and names high school teacher, Randall Thompson, as his abductor.

Robert Kavin is a defense attorney whose son was the Bloody Heart Killer’s six victim. He is still grieving for his son, but when Randall is arrested, Robert steps in to represent him, sure that he is innocent. To help prove that Randall is innocent, Robert hires psychiatrist Gwen Moore. Gwen specializes in treating people with murderous tendencies. Robert wants Gwen to create a profile of the killer and prove Randall is innocent.

I loved how all the characters in this book were flawed. Gwen has made a few mistakes with her patients, one that resulted in a murder/suicide. Robert picked Gwen up in a bar and they spent the night together and then started working on the case together. Talk about conflict of interest. LOL! They are also both hiding things from each other. I really did not trust Robert and could not wait to find out why he believed that Randall was not the Bloody Heart Killer. Scott was another character that I did not trust. Right from the get-go he gave off a suspicious vibe. He was happy and excited to go on television and talk about his ordeal and how he escaped, but when it came to answering questions from the police, he all of a sudden got quiet and couldn’t remember much. Yup, red flags went up for me because of that.

This book has so many layers to it that I had no idea what was going to be the outcome and I loved that about it. There were quite a few minor characters that could also have been the killer, so I was all over the place on who I thought was the Bloody Heart Killer. I did have the killer picked at one point, but then changed my mind. LOL!

The Good Lie was a fast paced read.  Though it was not an edge of my seat read, it was full of suspense and twists and turns that I devoured it in three days. Be forewarned though, it does get a bit graphic when describing the murders.  4 Stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow & Trail of Destruction

Hi there everyone! It’s me Sharon, back with another addition of Thriller Thursday. I hope everyone is doing well and getting some great reading done in this spooky season. 🙂  This week I am very excited to share my thoughts on Christina Henry’s amazing new book, Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow and Tracy Buchanan’s great new mystery, Trail of Destruction

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow & Trail of DestructionHorseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow Goodreads

Author: Christina Henry

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

I have always loved the tale of the Headless Horseman, so I was very excited to read Christina Henry’s Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow. And I am very happy to report that this book did not disappoint. This has everything I have grown to love with Christina Henry’s books.

Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow is not a retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but more of a continuance of what happened after.  The story takes place 20 years after the Headless Horseman drove Ichabod Crane from town and is centered around Brom Bones’ 14-year-old granddaughter Bendix, or Ben as she is called. Ben’s parents died 10 years ago, and she has been raised by her paternal grandparents, Brom and Katrina. Ben may have been born a girl, but she sees herself as a boy, much to her grandmother’s dismay. Her only friend is a boy named Sander. The story opens as Ben and Sander are playing Sleepy Hollow Boys in the woods and come across a group of men from town who have discovered the mutilated body of a boy with his head and hands missing. Not long after, one of Brom’s sheep is killed and its head and hoofs are missing and then another boy is found murdered with his head and hands missing as well.  Is this the work of the Headless Horseman? Or is there something more evil lurking in the woods?

I loved Ben. She had such strong determination to be the person she wanted to be and not who society thought she should be. When Ben discovers that she was not told the real circumstances surrounding her father’s death, she takes it upon herself to uncover the dark secrets that lurk in the woods. Ben is a Van Brunt and Van Brunts are not afraid of anything. I loved how even though Ben tried to be tough and brave, there was a vulnerable side to her as well. Ben also feels a connection to the Horseman, she can hear the Horseman whisper to her and can hear the thump, thump, thump of his horse and to me that just added to the mystery of the story. Why does Ben have a connection with the Horseman?

I also loved the relationship Ben had with Brom and Katrina. Ben adores Brom and wants to be just like him. But it is Ben’s relationship with Katrina that really pulled at my heart strings. They have always had a rocky relationship. Katrina wanted Ben to wear dresses and learn to sew and be the girl she was born to be, but Ben wanted to wear pants and ride and play in the woods and be the boy she feels she should have been born as. Ben was sure Katrina did not love her but when push came to shove and Ben was threatened by some local townsmen, Katrina stepped right in front of Ben to protect her. It was then their relationship took a different turn and Ben saw Katrina through different eyes.

I loved the way Henry presented the story with keeping to the original story and adding her twists to it. I loved the eerie and creepy feeling with the woods and the added threat of what else was lurking around besides the Headless Horseman.

If you are looking for a great book to finish out the spooky season, I definitely recommend Christina Henry’s Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow.   4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow & Trail of DestructionTrail of Destruction Goodreads

Author: Tracy Buchanan

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

The gossips of Forest Grove are back with a vengeance in Tracy Buchanan’s great new mystery novel Trail of Destruction.

Ellie Mileham has always been a problem solver. She loves the challenge, so when she took over being the moderator of Forest Grove’s local Facebook group, she figured she would have no problems at all. But no sooner does she take over then a prankster starts trolling the group. Whenever one of the members would complain about something on the group post, the prankster would retaliate. At first the pranks are harmless, but they suddenly turn violent and it becomes clear that this person needs to be stopped before someone is killed.

I love how Buchanan slowly increases the tension of the pranks.  At first, someone complained about people not picking up their dog’s poop, so the prankster put a bag of dog poop through their mailbox. Another complaint about people not bringing in their trash cans right away prompted the prankster to pull everyone’s trash cans onto his property. But then when a complaint was made about fireworks, someone dropped firecrackers through their mailbox which caused a fire. And then the woods were set on fire while a couple of teenagers were making a video in the woods. With each incident and then the reaction from the residents of the village, I could feel myself cringing for what would come next.

This book is full of unlikeable characters and it worked so well.  Oh, the pettiness of these people! If they were not complaining about something, then they just were not happy. And oh, don’t get me started on how fast they would turn on their neighbors. One minute they would be saying nice things about them, and the next the gossip would start flying. It was just so fun to watch. I am so glad my neighbors are not like that. LOL!

I did like Ellie though. She was going through a lot in her life. She has two teenage children, her husband of 20 years left her 3 months ago for another woman, and her mother had a nervous breakdown a few years ago and is living in an elderly facility at the edge of town. When she finds some threatening letters her mother received years ago, she starts digging into the history of Forest Grove to find out who would do such a thing and Ellie soon learns that there is a link between those letters and what is happening now. I really loved her determination, even when people started turning on her or when the clues pointed to someone she didn’t want to believe could be behind this all, she still pushed harder.

This was not an edge of your seat, tension filled read. It was more of a slow burn mystery that kept me turning the pages because I just had to find out who was behind everything. While Trail of Destruction is Buchanan’s third book that takes place in the village of Forest Grove, it can be read as a standalone. 3 ½ stars  

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect Family

 

Happy Thriller Thursday!   Sharon here, and this week’s theme is dysfunctional families LOL. Today I am reviewing Shari Lapena’s new book Not a Happy Family and Robyn Harding’s new book The Perfect Family and let me just say, I thought my family had some issues but compared to the families in these books, my family looks like The Brady Bunch 🙂

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect FamilyNot a Happy Family Goodreads

Author: Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Shari Lapena’s newest novel Not a Happy Family follows the dysfunctional wealthy Merton family. Fred and Sheila Merton were brutally murdered in their home the night after a disastrous Easter dinner with their adult children, Catherine, Dan and Jenna. As the police begin their investigation, they obviously start with their children, who stand to inherit millions and who each had a motive for wanting their parents dead.

Catherine is the oldest and knew that she would be inheriting the family home one day, that is until their father announced at Easter dinner that he was selling the house.

Dan has never had a good relationship with his father. Dan expected to take over the family business one day, that is until Fred sold it because he didn’t think Dan would be able to handle running it. So now after a few bad investments Dan needs money and asks his father for a loan on the night of Easter only to have his father tell him in no uncertain terms No!

Jenna is an artist; she likes to sculpt images of women’s anatomy, much to her parents’ dismay. She gets a monthly allowance from her parents. But they have decided it is time to cut her off.

Fred was not the best father. He got great joy in causing emotional pain to his children. And Sheila was not a very comforting mother; she left that job to their housekeeper Irene. So, it was not very surprising that the children were not overly devastated by their parents’ death.  They all have alibis for the night their parents died, well according to each of their spouses they did.  But those alibis are soon unraveled.

The siblings are not extremely close, but when the police start narrowing their suspicions onto them, they do rally around each other. Even though they figured one of them was the killer and they could have easily thrown each other under the bus, they stuck together. They figured which ever one of them was the killer did them a favor by getting rid of their toxic parents and made them all rich at the same time. Okay it was a bit of a twisted way of thinking, but hey they are family and are sticking together.

I liked the perspectives we got from each of them and watching them sweat when the investigation got to close to one of them.

As the police keep hitting walls as they try and figure out which of the siblings is the killer, they get some help from Fred’s sister Audrey. She has never really liked Catherine, Dan and Jenna, so she is more than happy to spill all the family secrets. And the Merton’s have a lot of secrets.

I really cannot say much more because I don’t want to spoil anything, I will say this book was full of twists and turns that had me all over the place on who I thought did it. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a twist would happen to point me in a different direction. I was completely clueless when the killer was finally revealed.  And without giving anything away, I love how Shari Lapena ended this book.

If you like stories that center around dysfunctional families and that keep you guessing throughout, I recommend Shari Lapena’s Not a Happy Family.   4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect FamilyThe Perfect Family Goodreads

Author: Robyn Harding

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Gallery Books

Robyn Harding’s newest novel The Perfect Family, is full of unlikeable characters and a train wreck of a family, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The Perfect Family follows the Adler family, Thomas, a real estate agent; his wife Viv, an interior designer; their twenty year old Son, Eli; and seventeen year old daughter, Tarryn. Thomas and Viv have tried to create the image of a perfect family, from their jobs, their cars, their home, and their children. But their perfect world is about to come crashing down. One morning when they wake up, they find their house has been egged. Thomas insists that it is just teenagers. But then a smoke bomb is thrown at their house, their car tires are slashed, and someone has set fire to their hedges. The police cannot help them since they don’t know who is doing this and even the surveillance cameras they installed only show a shadowy figure in a hoodie. Why is someone targeting the Adlers? Well, the answer to that question lies in the secrets they each have.

I don’t want to give much away about what secrets they each have. Even though they are not real spoilers, I think it is still best to figure them out on your own because as each family member’s secret is revealed to the reader it adds more to the mystery to who is behind the attacks on the Adler family.  As each secret was revealed, I would switch my thinking on what I thought was going on and why.

The Adlers are such a dysfunctional family and none of them came across as sympathetic, even after their secrets were revealed. They are all so sure that their secret cannot be the reason the attacks are happening, that they are all quick to point the finger at each other. Tarryn had the finger pointed at her the most. Her parents were so sure that these pranks were the act of teenagers, so it had to be someone that she made mad at some point. When I learned each of their secrets all I could think of was “You are blaming Tarryn when you are hiding that?” They were all such hypocrites.

I love how Robin Harding slowly revealed bits of information, it wasn’t all just a big data dump. She had my attention fully as I couldn’t wait to find out more about each of the Adler’s secrets and what else was going to happen to them. And even though I don’t think any of the characters were very likeable, I love how Harding gave them each a voice. The book is told from each of their POV’s and I really liked getting into their thoughts and couldn’t wait to find out what they were hiding.

The Perfect Family was a suspenseful read, with many twists that will keep you guessing until the end. If you are a fan of Robin Harding, I think you will enjoy this as much as I did.  3 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Review: Billy Summers

 

Hi Everyone! It’s Sharon, back with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Stephen King’s new book, Billy Summers. I know I normally have two reviews to share, but I loved this book so much and I had so much to say about it, that I didn’t think it would be fair to another author to only give a short blurb for their book. But don’t worry, next Thriller Thursday I will be back to two reviews. I even know which books they will be and I am almost finished with the first one. 🙂

 

Thriller Thursday Review: Billy SummersBilly Summers Goodreads

Author: Stephen King

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Scribner

Stephen King’s latest book Billy Summers is now in my top ten favorite King books. This was not a scary read. It’s more of a crime/suspenseful mystery. As always with Stephen King’s books, I was fully invested in the characters and cared about them so much. I had butterflies in my stomach almost the entire time I was reading because I had no idea where this book was going and was afraid for their safety with every turn of the page.

The book centers around Billy Summers, who is an Iraq war vet whose specialty is being one of the best snipers in the world. When Billy leaves the Marines, he puts that specialty to use and becomes a killer for hire. But Billy will only kill men who he deems are bad. So yeah, he is a killer with scruples. Billy is ready to retire but has decided to do one last job, for two million dollars. He does this job and he is set for life. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, that’s what.

I fell in love with Billy from the very beginning. Yes, he is a killer, but beneath all that there is a very nice and caring man. And we get to see this man while Billy is waiting for his mark to arrive. The man Billy has been hired to kill is currently in L.A. fighting extradition to be returned to a southern town called Riverdale to face murder charges. While waiting, Billy has been set up with a false identity and cover story. He is a writer that is working on a novel. He is living in a house in a family neighborhood and it is here that we get to see the man Billy really is as he gets to know and become friends with his neighbors. I really enjoyed watching him interact with his neighbors. They would go to each other’s house for dinners, and he would play with their children. He was just an all-around great guy (I know, I know he is a killer for hire lol).  When it got closer to the time the kill would take place, Billy started to feel bad at how upset his neighbors, especially the children, would be when they learned who he really was.

I don’t want to say what went wrong with the hit, but I will say that all does not go as planned and Billy has to go into hiding. It is while he is in hiding that we meet another great character, Alice. Alice was the victim of a rape and she was left on the side of the road across the street from the apartment that Billy was hiding out in.  When Billy saw a van drive down the street and dump her out, he assumed she was dead but when he went out to check and found that she was alive he brought her back to the apartment. See he is really a nice guy. I really liked Alice, she was one tough and smart cookie. She joins Billy on his trip across the country to right the wrongs that were done against him. I loved watching the relationship between Billy and Alice grow. It wasn’t instant trust between the two of them, which made it feel all the more realistic. Billy and Alice brought out the best in each other.

While Billy was waiting for the hit to occur, he actually did do some writing and then continued with the writing after, and it is through his writing that we learn more about him. When Billy was 11 years old his stepfather killed his little sister and then came after Billy, but Billy shot and killed him. After spending a few years in a foster home Billy joined the Marines. We get a good look as to what it was like to be on the ground in Iraq through Billy’s writings. The writing of being in Iraq was so authentic that I could visualize everything. I really liked having the chapters of the actual story broken up with pages from Billy’s writing. As much as I loved Billy from the beginning of the book, reading the words he wrote about his life made him all the more loveable and also sympathetic.

This book was a slow but steady build up to a tension filled ending that had me in tears. If you are a fan of Stephen King I think you will enjoy Billy Summers. If you have been looking for a Stephen King book to read, but don’t want the pants scared off you (lol), I recommend Billy Summers.  4 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning Kind

 

Happy Thriller Thursday!  It’s Sharon, and my reviews this week are for B.A. Paris’ new book, The Therapist and Jennifer McMahon’s new book, The Drowning Kind. I loved both of these books and I am excited to share my thoughts on them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning KindThe Therapist Goodreads

Author: B.A. Paris

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

I have been a fan of B.A. Paris ever since I read her debut thriller Behind Closed Doors a few years ago. Seriously, if you want to read an amazing book, I highly recommend that one. As soon as I see she has a new book coming out I immediately add it to my To Read list and buy it as soon as it is released. This was the case with The Therapist, and it did not disappoint.

Alice and her partner Leo move into a house in The Circle, a gated community in London.  As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she finds out that Leo never told her that the former owner, Nina Maxwell who was a therapist, was murdered in the house and her husband, Oliver, who ended up killing himself, was accused of killing her.  About twenty years ago Alice’s parents and her sister, Nina, were killed in a car accident and ever since then, whenever Alice meets another Nina, she becomes obsessed with them. This is the case with Nina Maxwell, and as she digs into Nina’s life, she discovers that Oliver may not have killed her. Alice’s neighbors, however, don’t want to talk about it. Even though they do not think Oliver killed Nina, they are willing to believe it since he killed himself once he was accused of the murder. It is a lot better to believe Oliver did it than someone else in their community. The more Alice digs and the more questions she asks, Alice finds that all of her neighbors are keeping secrets and this community is not as perfect as it seems.

I loved how Paris kept me guessing throughout this book.  Just when I thought I may know what was going on and who killed Nina, a curveball would be thrown in to point me in another direction. I love when an author keeps me on my toes and makes me suspect everyone in the book. No one in this community was above suspicion, not even Alice’s partner Leo.  Once Alice found out that Leo knew about the murder and did not tell her, she started questioning if she could ever trust him again. And she started looking into him and found that he was not all he said he was. On top of all the secrets and lies, strange things start to happen to Alice in the house. Sorry, I cannot say what they are because that would spoil things.  But add all of this together and you have a read that will have your brain all over the place.

We also get chapters from the past that are the POV of a therapist as they are having sessions with a client.  We do not know who the therapist or client is and that adds to the mystery and suspicion of Alice’s investigation. As with Alice, I was all over the place and suspected everyone. At one point I thought I had things figured out, but boy oh boy, was I wrong. By the end of the book when all was revealed, I was on the edge of my seat.

If you are a fan of B.A. Paris or if you like books that keep you guessing I highly recommend The Therapist, I don’t think you will be disappointed.    4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning KindThe Drowning Kind Goodreads

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

I have not read anything by Jennifer McMahon in a few years, but the synopsis for The Drowning Kind jumped out at me and I had to read it. I borrowed this from the library, but this was so good that as soon as I was finished reading it, I bought a copy because I needed to have this book in my collection.

The Drowning Kind alternates in dual timelines. The first timeline is in the present and follows Jax. Jax and her sister Lexie used to visit their grandmother every summer at her estate in Brandenburg Vermont called Sparrow Crest. Jax and her sister were very close when they were younger. They would spend their summers exploring around the estate, riding their bikes into town and swimming in the pool. The pool at the estate is said to have magical powers, it is fed from underground springs that bubble up to fill the pool. When Lexie was diagnosed with bipolar Jax tried to be there for her but when it got too much for her Jax moved across the country. When their grandmother died and left Sparrow Crest to Lexie, it was too much for Jax to handle so she cut off all ties with Lexi. When Jax came home one night and she had nine missed calls with frantic voice mails from Lexi she assumed that Lexi was off her meds again. The next morning Jax gets a call from her aunt telling her Lexie has drowned in the pool. When Jax gets to the estate she finds that Lexi had been researching their family and the land the estate was built on. When Jax continues the research, she discovers that the land had a very dark and deadly history.

The second timeline starts in 1929 and follows Ethel Monroe, who married late in life and desperately wants a baby. When she and her husband take a trip to a new hotel that had opened in Brandenburg Vermont, Ethel learns of the springs that is able to cure any ailment by either drinking it or swimming in it. The springs can also grant wishes. But nothing in life is free and while the springs does give it also takes. Through this timeline we get the history of the Springs and how Sparrow Crest came to be. I don’t really want to say too much and spoil anything. But I did figure out a couple things from this timeline.

While I like the timeline in 1929, the present-day timeline with Jax was my favorite. I had so much sympathy for Jax. She felt so guilty about not taking her sister’s calls and then being back at the estate brought up so many of her childhood memories. It is from these memories that we get to know Lexie. I think Jennifer McMahon did a great job of bringing a dead character to life. Lexie’s energy just jumped off the pages. I cannot say to much about what Jax and Lexie uncovered in their research on the land, but I will say it involves drownings and ghosts.

This book was so creepy and eerie, there were a few nights that I dreamt of the book and would jolt awake and have to turn on my bedroom light to make sure no one was in my room. LOL!  The Drowning Kind was also about family, grief, and forgiveness. I actually had tears in my eyes a few times while reading.  And the ending literally had my mouth drop open and me saying out loud “What?!”   4 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May I

 

Hi everyone!  It’s Sharon, back with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Riley Sager’s new book, Survive The Night and Joshilyn Jackson’s new book, Mother May I. Riley Sager is a favorite author of mine, and Joshilyn Jackson is a new author for me. I loved both of these books and I am excited to share my thoughts on them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May ISurvive the Night Goodreads

Author: Riley Sager

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Publisher: Dutton Books

I have been a fan of Riley Sager since I read his first thriller Final Girls so I was very excited to read his latest book Survive the Night, and I am happy to report this book did not disappoint.

When Charlie Jordan was sixteen she lost both of her parents in a car accident. It was at their funeral that something snapped in Charlie’s brain and she started seeing movies in her mind. Not movies that have been on the big screen, but the real life situations that are happening, only Charlie’s brain makes it into a movie. Everything is more vivid and the people she sees or the actions that she sees happening are not what is actually going on. These movies come when Charlie is afraid or stressed. Fast forward four years and Charlie is now in college. But a couple months ago her roommate was murdered by a serial killer called “The Campus Killer” and Charlie feels responsible because she left her alone that night. Unable to deal with all that is going on Charlie decides to go home to visit her grandmother. At the campus ride-share board she meets Josh and agrees to ride with him. But it doesn’t take long for Charlie to start doubting Josh and suspects he could be the campus killer. And so begins the game of cat and mouse as Charlie tries to figure out if Josh really is dangerous or is it just her movie filled mind.

The story takes place during the 6 hour drive, and I really liked how Sager titled each chapter almost script like, “Ext- Grand Am 10:00pm, Int- Grand Am 11:00pm, Int- Rest stop 12:00 am etc.” And even though the book is only told through a few hours, Sager also does a great job of fleshing out the characters and scenery.  We got a lot of backstories on both Charlie and Josh in the short time we know them and I really liked both characters. Okay I kept going back and forth on Josh lol.

I loved how Charlie was such an unreliable character. I didn’t know if things were really happening or if they were just movies in her mind. I also had a lot of sympathy for her, she has been through a lot between her parents dying and then her roommate’s murder, so she was a very vulnerable character. But I also loved how when push came to shove she became one badass woman.

I cannot say much about what transpired during Charlie and Josh’s drive to make Charlie suspect that Josh was a killer, but I will say I did not see a couple of the twists that took place. I was all over the place on what I thought was going to happen, on whether Josh was a good guy or a bad guy and if what I was reading was true or Charlie’s movies.

If you are a fan of Riley Sager or if you like books that keep you guessing, I definitely recommend checking out Survive the Night.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.   4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May IMother May I Goodreads

Author: Joshilyn Jackson

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

I have come across other books by Joshilyn Jackson that looked interesting but have never picked any of them up to read. Well I am glad I did not let Mother May I pass by because this book was awesome. I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was beating so fast the whole time I was reading.

Bree Cabbat has the perfect life. She is happily married to Trey, a corporate lawyer, and they have 2 teenage daughters and a 10 week old son, Robert. But Bree’s perfect life is about to come crashing down.  One morning she wakes up and is startled to see a gray haired old lady, all dressed in black looking in her bedroom window. She shakes it off as a trick of the light, but then she sees this lady again in the parking lot of her daughters’ school. When she was watching her oldest daughter’s school play rehearsal with her son Robert in his car seat, she turned her back on him for just a few minutes and when she looked back he was gone. Next to his bottle was a note saying “If you ever want to see your baby again, go home. Tell no one. Do not call the police. Be at your house by 5:15PM or he is gone for good.” Bree assumes Robert was abducted for a ransom, but when the old woman who took Robert calls, Bree learns his abduction is for revenge and this woman needs Bree to perform a task.

I cannot say anything about what the revenge was for or what task Bree had to perform as that is the whole plot of the story and would spoil things. But I will say once Bree performs this task it becomes a race against time to find baby Robert. And Bree and the old lady who took him play a game of cat and mouse.

Bree enlists the help of Marshall, the widow of Bree’s best friend who is an ex police officer, to help her work to try and figure out who this lady is and where she may have taken Robert and why. And it is the why that is about to make Bree’s perfect marriage and life come crumbling down. I will say the more we learn of this old lady and the reasons for her actions, I did find myself having some sympathy for her. That is not to say I thought what she was doing was right. There is no reason to put a child in jeopardy and if she wanted revenge then go to the source and leave the child alone.

I really liked how  Bree went into massive mama bear mode and would do anything to get her son back. She was an incredibly strong woman who just wanted to make sure her children were safe at any cost.

Mother May I is an adrenaline rush book that does not let up until the very end.  I am glad I chose this as my first Joshilyn Jackson read and I look forward to reading more of her books.  4 stars

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark Lies

 

Hi everyone!  Sharon here with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Sally Hepworth’s domestic thriller, The Good Sister and J.T. Ellison’s mystery/thriller, Her Dark Lies. I am a fan of both of these authors and happy to say I loved both of these books.

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesThe Good Sister Goodreads

Author: Sally Hepworth

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

I have loved all of the books I have read by Sally Hepworth, so I was very excited to read her latest book The Good Sister and it did not disappoint. This book exceeded all of my expectations and is my favorite so far.

Fern and Rose are fraternal twins who are very different from each other. Rose is the responsible one and has always taken care of Fern and protected her from their mother. Fern is on the autism spectrum, she is very sensitive to loud noises and light, she doesn’t like to be touched too much or crowds. Fern and Rose are very close and will do anything for each other. Years ago Fern did something very bad and Rose has kept that secret. Now Fern has learned that Rose cannot have children and has decided that she is going to get pregnant and give the baby to Rose. But Fern starts to realize that Rose is not the good sister she thought she was and is now rethinking about giving her baby to Rose. And that decision will have dire consequences.

This book is told from the POV of Rose through her journal pages which give us a look into what their childhood was like and also from the POV of Fern in present day, as she goes about her life and mission to give Rose a baby.

I really felt for Rose reading her journal entries. The things she endured at the hands of her mother made my heart break for her.  But my impression of Rose changed as more things were revealed and it started to become clear that Rose may not really be that much of a protector of Fern as was first thought.

Fern was my favorite, I loved her. She works in a library, so right there she is high up on my list lol. She just warmed my heart and made me laugh. Fern saw the good in everyone. Even when she started to suspect Rose did not have her best intentions in mind, she still wanted to believe that everything Rose did was for Fern’s protection. Fern loved working in the library, the one job she hated though was when someone needed help with the photocopier. If someone came to her for help she would pretend like she heard someone call her or act like she was on the phone. It was when she did quirky things like this that would make me laugh.

It was in the library that Fern meets another character that I loved, Wally. Though his real name was Rocco, Fern called him Wally because the clothes he wore reminded her of the character from the book ‘Where’s Wally”.  He is also socially awkward like Fern and understood her sensitivity to light and sound so when they went out he would give her noise cancelling headphones and swimming goggles to wear. I loved watching their relationship grow and from the moment they met I was hoping that Fern would get a happily ever after with him.

I really cannot say much about this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that The Good Sister is a domestic thriller that was very beautifully written, full of characters that I loved, and had me turning the pages wanting to know more about them and what was going to happen.   4 ½ stars

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesHer Dark Lies Goodreads

Author: J.T. Ellison

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher: Mira

J.T. Ellison’s new book Her Dark Lies was everything that I was hoping for.  From the amazing Italian setting to the secrets and lies and the dead body count, this book had everything that makes a great mystery thriller.

Claire Hunter is set to marry the wealthy Jack Compton on the Compton family’s remote island, Isle Isola, off the Italian coast. The night before they were to set off for the island someone broke into Claire and Jack’s home and Claire ended up shooting and killing the intruder. And then once they reach the island, skeleton remains have been found, Claire’s wedding dress was ruined by someone writing ‘whore’ in blood on the back of it, and more deaths occurred. It is safe to say that someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. But who? Claire and Jack both have secrets. When Claire was a teenager, her father died in a car accident that was Claire’s fault. And Jack’s first wife mysteriously died 10 years ago while they were on their honeymoon.

I loved the setting of this book and Ellison does an amazing job of describing the island and the Villa. I could picture it so vividly that it felt like I was actually there. I could imagine myself walking up the stone stairs to get to the Villa from the beach. And I could picture myself in the rooms. At times if felt like I was watching the book, rather than reading it.

We figure out early on who is behind all that is happening and to me that just added to the suspense. What are they going to do next? Why are they doing this? And the answers to those questions made this an edge of my seat read.  There was also so many twists and turns in this book that I didn’t want to put it down. Especially when the closer it got to the end, the more the body count was rising. All I could think of was “Damn! Who is going to make it off this island alive?”

The only issue I had was I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I think they were well written, but I was so caught up in the setting of the book and all that was going on that they didn’t really pop for me. The only one that I can say had any growth was Claire. At the beginning of the book she annoyed me. Whenever something happened and she would get upset, Jack would tell her not to worry, that he and his family had everything under control, and she just went along with it and let him take care of things. But by the end of the book Claire turned into one bad ass woman. She had enough and was going to take down the person that was behind everything that was happening on the island. I actually found myself cheering for her at the end. You go Claire!   4 Stars

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction Edition

 

It’s time for another roundup of the ARCs I read in January.  This time I want to focus on a couple of lovely historical fiction novels that I read, one set in WWII and the other set during WWI.

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Whispers of War Goodreads

Author: Julia Kelly

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Publisher:  Gallery Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Julia Kelly’s The Whispers of War is an engaging work of historical fiction that focuses on three friends, Marie, Nora, and Hazel, and the challenges they face when World War II reaches the shores of England.  The author deftly uses a dual timeline to both ground her readers in the present and take us back in time. She begins in the present with Marie’s granddaughter, Samantha, who has travelled to London after Marie’s death to present Nora with a keepsake Marie wanted her dear friend to have.  Samantha has also been charged with writing a eulogy for her grandmother so she takes the opportunity of meeting Nora to pick her brain about Marie’s early life.  Although Nora is the gateway to the past, the author presents the WWII timeline from the perspectives of Nora, Marie, and their other good friend, Hazel.

As much as WWII historical fiction has always fascinated me, the friendship of these three women was what really sold me on this book.  Marie is German-born, and although she has lived in England nearly all of her life, the threat of war with the Nazis has her on edge, especially as rumors abound that those with German blood could be placed in internment camps.  Nora, on the other hand, is English by birth and actually works for the British government at the Home Office.  She takes advantage of her position to keep Marie apprised of what’s really going on with respect to possible internment camps.  In sharp contrast to both Nora and Marie is Hazel, who works for a matchmaking company. Ever the optimist and even in the face of war, she’s in the business of helping people find love.  These three women are such an unlikely trio, but the bond of friendship they share is just beautiful to see, especially when contrasted with the ugliness of war as more and more people turn on Marie because of her German background.

Using WWII and Marie’s experiences as its backdrop, The Whispers of War explores some pretty big themes – friendship, sisterhood, what happens when loyalties are tested, politics, women’s rights issues, and even a little romance.  Marie’s story is pretty incredible and I loved learning more about her alongside her granddaughter.  If you’re into WWII historical fiction and/or stories that feature strong female characters, you’ll want to check out The Whispers of War4 STARS

 

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Vineyards of Champagne Goodreads

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Set in the beautiful Champagne region of France, Juliet Blackwell’s latest novel The Vineyards of Champagne follows Rosalyn, an American woman who is traveling to France to find new wines for her company to distribute in America.  Rosalyn, still reeling from the loss of her husband, isn’t excited about the trip but her boss thinks it will be good for her.  On the plane, Rosalyn meets Emma, an Australian woman with a larger-than-life personality and who is working on a project that piques Rosalyn’s interest.

Emma has a packet of letters that belonged to her grandmother, who was corresponding with a young French soldier named Emile LeGrand during WWI.  The letters were written by Emile, and Emma is heading to France in hopes of finding out more about the French soldier and hopefully finding her grandmother’s side of the correspondence.  Rosalyn is drawn in by Emma’s enthusiasm for the project, and so what started as a business trip for Rosalyn slowly becomes a trip about healing and moving forward, as she and Emma dive deeper into the letters and learn more about Emile and about what life was like in the Champagne region during WWI.

This was such an easy book to fall in love with.  I adored both Emma and Rosalyn from the moment they met.  I felt tremendous sympathy for Rosalyn because of her loss and how much she was struggling to cope but could tell right away that Emma was going to be good for her with that live-out-loud personality of hers.  I also loved the quaint little town that Rosalyn stays in while she’s there, as well as the array of wonderful secondary characters, especially Jerome, a champagne maker who catches Rosalyn’s eye.

The biggest draw for me in The Vineyards of Champagne though was what I learned about WWI.  The history that unfolded through the letters just made for such a fascinating read. I had no idea that the citizens of this region in France had taken shelter during the war in underground caves beneath the champagne houses. The women and children basically lived in underground cities, educated the children there, and periodically came up to harvest the grapes to keep champagne production going.  How amazing is that?

The Vineyards of Champagne is a story of love and loss, resilience and survival, and above all else, friendship and hope.  4 STARS