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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

Reviews: THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLING

 

I know I said last week that we would be trying to do Thriller Thursday a couple of times a month, but even though I’ve had hardly any thriller review books for the past few months, somehow I ended up with two of them with February 2nd publication dates.  So I’ll be sharing those two ARC reviews today and Sharon will be back next week to share even more thrillers with you.  Thanks so much to all who gave her such a warm welcome last week. It was much appreciated. 🙂

 

Reviews:  THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLINGThe Project Goodreads

Author:  Courtney Summers

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

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

Nineteen year old Lo Denham has been alone for most of her life.  Her parents died in a car accident when she was younger and her older sister, Bea, chose to abandon Lo to become a member of a special group called the Unity Project, a group known for their religious background and for their community outreach efforts.  Lo is suspicious about the Project.  Why would joining such a group make her sister choose to cut all ties with the only family she has left?  Lo becomes obsessed with learning as much as she can about the Project. As an aspiring writer, it is Lo’s goal to write an exposé on what she thinks the Project is…a cult.  When she meets and interviews the members of the Project and the founder, however, Lo gets way more than she bargained for and it becomes clear she’s in over her head in her pursuit of the truth.

I don’t really want to say anything else about the plot itself because I think following Lo’s journey and seeing it unfold without spoilers is the best way to fully appreciate it.  The Project is also hard to classify but it’s not exactly what I would consider a thriller.  There is definitely an element of mystery to it, but by and large, the story is an exploration of just how easy it is to get lured in by a cult.  It explores how a persuasive cult leader can get under your skin, by giving you precisely what you need emotionally and by making you feel seen.  This aspect of the book hit me hard because it’s so relevant today with groups like Q Anon.  You wonder how in the world someone can fall for something like that, but with The Project, Courtney Summers shows just how vulnerable we all can be.  The Project is a dark read and a sad, heartbreaking one at times, but a powerful read just the same.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLINGThe Unwilling Goodreads

Author: John Hart

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

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

I’m a huge fan of John Hart’s novels.  I love them because even though they’re thrillers, they’re always so much more than that.  The Unwilling is the sixth book I’ve read from Hart, and yes, it’s a thriller, but it’s also a coming of age story, as well as a story about a family torn apart by war.

Set during the Vietnam War, The Unwilling follows the French family.  They’ve lost two sons to the war, Robert, who was actually killed in action and Jason, who turned to heroin and ended up in prison.  Their youngest son, Gibby, is all Mr. and Mrs. French have left, and they are terrified of losing him too.  When Jason gets out of prison, they’re determined to keep him away from Gibby.  Gibby can’t resist the allure of hanging out with his big brother though and so he sneaks out to see Jason and to meet up with some girls.  When one of the girls turned up dead soon after and Jason is named as the prime suspect, both Gibby and Jason find themselves knee deep in a bad situation that could cost them both their lives.

I loved so many things about this book!  First, I just became so attached to the French family.  It was so heartbreaking to think of all the losses they have suffered and their grief is just so palpable throughout the story.  I was especially heartbroken for the father.  As a police detective, he’s in an impossible spot. He wants to believe his son is innocent but has to admit that he’s not sure, primarily because of his son’s past misdeeds.  He loves Jason but he is also desperate to protect what’s left of his family.

I also really adored Gibby.  Much of the story comes to us from Gibby’s perspective and it is through him that we get the coming of age element in the story.  Gibby is torn between not wanting to upset his parents and wanting to break free from this sheltered bubble they have him living in.  He wants to have a relationship with his brother, he wants to date girls, he just wants to grow up and is frustrated at every turn by his parents.  I was really rooting for Gibby to come into his own and was really impressed by his growth as the story progressed, especially when he decides he’s going to prove his brother is innocent. I admired his determination, loyalty, and bravery.

The thriller aspect of the story as it relates to the murder is amazing too. I don’t want to give anything away with respect to that, but wow, what a dark and twisted tale it is.  Also, be forewarned that Hart’s descriptions of the violent acts in the novel are vivid and gruesome.  I know I won’t be forgetting the images I read about anytime soon!

If you’re interested in a riveting thriller as well as a heartbreaking story about the effects of war on a family, definitely check out John Hart’s The Unwilling. 4.5 STARS.

Reviews: The Ghost Tree and You are Invited

 

Happy Thursday!  For those who read my 2021 goals post a couple of weeks ago, you may remember that I mentioned wanting to bring in a guest blogger.  Well, today is the day that goal is becoming a reality.  Sharon is one of my long-time best friends and she also happens to be an avid reader, particularly in the mystery/thriller genre.  Since I don’t review many thrillers, I thought it would be fun to have Sharon share some of the thrillers she has been reading and, in the process, start a new feature on the blog, Thriller Thursday.  We’re aiming for her to share reviews every other Thursday, but we’ll play it by ear depending on how busy her schedule is.  Anyway, please give Sharon a warm welcome and I hope you’ll find some new reads to add to your TBRs. 🙂

 

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Hi everyone! My name is Sharon and I would like to thank Suzanne for the opportunity to share some of my reviews on her blog. I like to read a bunch of different genres, thrillers, mysteries, YA, fantasy. But my go to are the mystery/thriller type books. And today I would like to share a couple of thriller/supernatural books I have just read. The Ghost Tree and You Are Invited.

 

Reviews: The Ghost Tree and You are InvitedThe Ghost Tree Goodreads

Author: Christina Henry

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Berkley Books

 

I really cannot say too much about The Ghost Tree because pretty much anything I say will spoil it. But I will say this was awesome. It is filled with witches, curses and haunted woods. It is a bit graphic at times when describing the murder scenes, so be forewarned.

Smiths Hollow is a small town and something evil lives in the woods and only comes out once a year. Or so everyone thought… But then Lauren’s father was found murdered in the woods and his heart was torn out. And then 6 months later the mutilated bodies of 2 girls were found. What is the evil that lives in the woods and why the sudden change in its pattern?

Even though her father was murdered in the woods, Lauren has never been afraid to go there. She has been going there with her BFF Miranda since they were little. Lauren also knows that the police won’t find the killer of the girls because they never found out who killed her father. In fact, they surprisingly never really did much of an investigation and everyone has seemed to moved on. Then Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging those girls through the woods and killing them. She knows that she cannot let it go and have them forgotten (as all the others before them have been), so she goes into the woods to find evidence to help the police find the killer. But she finds more than that, Lauren discovers that their small town is cursed, and it is up to her to fix it.

The book is told from many POV’s and has a lot of things going on besides the murders, but it never got confusing. Everything just flowed so well and all the characters meshed so well together. While the book had multiple POV’s, Lauren was the main focal character and I just loved her. I loved how she cared about her younger brother David (who is such a little sweetie). Even though she is 14 and he is only 4 she took the time to spend time with him, be it playing a board game or going to the local fair. I also loved the growth Lauren had. She goes from a 14 ½ year old who is still a child, to a teenager on the edge of womanhood. She learns a lot about the town’s history as well as her own and she faces them both head on.

The book takes place in 1985 and I loved all the 80’s references (it was like going down memory lane)

And even though we find out early on in the book what is wrong with the town, it does not take anything away from the story; in fact, it actually adds to the tension. And boy does the tension ramp up as the book goes on! By the end I was on the edge of my seat.    4 Stars

 

Reviews: The Ghost Tree and You are InvitedYou Are Invited Goodreads

Author: Sarah A. Denzil

Publication Date: September 11, 2020

Publisher: Self Published

 

Cath Fenwick is an author of fantasy books. She has a large following on social media, but Cath has always been a loner. She has no real friends, except from her social media followers and she suffers from schizophrenia but can keep the voices at bay with the help of her medication. When Cath gets an invitation from Irene Jobert to take part in The Event, a retreat of sorts for social media influencers, she jumps at the chance. Irene is the most famous influencer in the world and Cath will get to spend a month with her and 3 others (Jules, a famous blogger; Nathan, a gamer; and Daniel, a fitness guru) in an old Transylvanian Monastery. They will be live streamed to millions of people around the world and the subscribers can donate money to their favorite influencer.

On her way to The Event, Cath’s taxi driver tells her the story of the nuns that were murdered at the monastery years ago “There are those who claim the ghosts walking the corridors of Sfântul Mihail are not ghosts at all.”  And that may be true.  As the group is roaming around parts of the Monastery, their viewers notice a dark shape lurking in a corner.  Strange things start happening too.  There are wolves in the woods, there is a snowstorm coming, and one of the viewers keeps offering them one million dollars to kill one of the group.  Cath’s inner voices are also back.  Add all of that up and you have a group that is beginning to crack and become paranoid, all while being live streamed.

The book is told from the POV of Cath and she was not a very reliable narrator, which just added to the mystery and suspense of the book.

I loved the eerie gothic setting. I think the author did a great job of making the scenery jump off the pages. The beginning of the book had the most eerie/supernatural feel to it, gave me chills a few times. The eerie feel tapered off midway through the book when a couple of twists were added that took the book in a new direction.

The ending did feel a bit rushed to me, and there were a few things that were left unanswered.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the supernatural/mystery feel of the book. And also the live stream and followers interaction aspect of the book.   3 ½ stars