REVIEW: APPLES NEVER FALL, BY LIANE MORIARTY

The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

 

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

 
 
 
 
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Apples Never Fall tells the story of a family with secrets and hidden conflicts; the Delaneys keep their story to themselves. They have a façade to protect as a company of tennis stars.

It is hard to say who is in charge of this family, as both Stan and Joy have their roles to play, and they seem to maintain those parts well.

 

The tale sweeps back and forth in time, focusing on the disappearance of Joy, the mother, as police try to find out what happened to her, while directing their gaze upon Stan.

The young woman who had showed up on their doorstep one night, claiming abuse, seemingly takes over the household until family members begin to question her stories and her goals.

Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it would take a new turn. By the end, I had a much clearer picture of them all and what kept them together in spite of their conflicts. A 5 star read.

 
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REVIEW: HER PERFECT LIFE, BY HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN

Everyone knows Lily Atwood―and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all―fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips―but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he―or she―know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world―and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life? And what if the spotlight is the most dangerous place of all?
 
 
 
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Alternating stories sweep back and forth in Her Perfect Life, revealing two sisters: Cassie, the older one who disappeared from college when the younger sister, Lily, was only seven years old, and adult Lily who is struggling to keep her “perfect life” going.

In the past, searches yielded nothing, which left Lily, her mother, and her grandmother believing that Cassie had left on her own and didn’t want to come home.

But in the present, Lily’s TV producer, Greer, decides to work with a detective who has presented himself to her, hoping to find Cassie. And finally solve a case his own father had worked on.

But are those helping Lily find answers truly on her side or is there another agenda? As we follow the narratives of each sister, we come to our own conclusions, and are stunned by the twisted plans of some of the characters. 5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: THE PERFECT FAMILY, BY ROBYN HARDING

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

This twisty, addictively page-turning suspense novel about a perfect family’s perfect façade will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending.

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Everything is going wrong in The Perfect Family, and as we follow the thoughts of each member during a frightening and troubling time in their lives, we are as curious as they are about who is terrorizing them.

Alternating voices tell the tale, from Thomas, the patriarch, to Viv, the matriarch. And then Eli and Tarryn, the younger generation, reveal bits and pieces of their issues.

Who is raising havoc in their lives? As the danger increases, we are more puzzled than ever. Could the terrorists be mischievous youngsters, or are the events the work of someone else? Each family member has secrets, and could those hidden aspects of their lives be responsible? I was totally surprised by the revelations. A twisty tale that earned five stars.

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REVIEW: CUL-DE-SAC, BY JOY FIELDING

 

Someone on this quiet, unassuming cul-de-sac will be shot dead in the middle of a sultry July night.

Will it be Maggie, the perfectionist wife, or Craig, the husband who can’t quite live up to her expectations? They’ve packed up their two children and fled their life in California, hoping for a fresh start in Florida, only to find the demons of the past hovering on their doorstep.

Maybe it will be Nick, a highly respected oncologist, or his wife, Dani, a successful dentist, both with well-kept secrets of their own.

Or perhaps the victim will be Julia, an elderly widow, whose troubled grandson has recently moved in with her, introducing unsavory habits and even more unsavory acquaintances into her formerly quiet existence.

Then there’s Olivia and her husband, Sean. Having lost his job at a prestigious advertising agency, Sean is depressed, resentful of his working wife, and drinking heavily. He is also prone to increasingly violent fantasies.

And what of the newlyweds, Aiden and Heidi, whose marriage is already on the rocks, due to Aiden’s reluctance to stand up to his intrusive mother? Matters aren’t helped when Heidi befriends Julia’s grandson, setting the stage for a major blowup.

A diverse group of neighbors, to be sure. Yet all harbor secrets. All bear scars. And all have access to guns.

Not all will survive the night.
 
 
 
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Cul-de-Sac opens with a shooting in a quiet neighborhood.

In the following pages, we meet the residents of the quiet street, each of them appearing normal until we look below the surface.

As we learn more about each of them, we are left guessing about who will explode and turn on someone else.

The shooter could be any one of them, and I had my money on one individual, but I could have been wrong. In the end, I had it figured out.

A year later, everything has changed on the quiet street, but some were able to pick up the pieces. A brilliant story that delved into the lives behind the façade. 5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: THE AFFAIR, BY AMANDA BROOKE

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart.
Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything.

As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

 

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Told to the reader in alternating voices, The Affair reveals how families are affected by the behavior of an adult and a young girl.

Scarlet has her mind set on keeping her secrets, and from her narratives, we learn more details about what she is hiding.

We also see how the wives of the possible perpetrators are deeply affected by all that unfolds.

The reader must guess the identity of Scarlet’s “lover,” but the full story will not be told until the very end. A 4 star read

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REVIEW: SUCH A QUIET PLACE, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, where you can find secrets, scandal, and a suspected killer—all on one street.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truetts’ murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

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When Ruby comes back to Hollow’s Edge after she is released, her conviction overturned, she blithely moves back into the house with Harper. Suddenly Harper is afraid and uncertain, wondering what Ruby plans to do. Soon strange events are happening, as neighbors try to cover their own involvement in her conviction, keeping their eyes on Ruby and what she might do next.

A community board that spotlights the thoughts of the neighbors keeps them all focused on covering up secrets while sharing ideas that only heighten their paranoia about Ruby who might be uncovering what they all might have done to put her behind bars in the first place.

When another death occurs, Harper pushes hard to uncover the truth, and the neighbors all become their own worst enemies. Such a Quiet Place is a book that kept me turning pages and earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: LOCAL WOMAN MISSING, BY MARY KUBICA

 

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

 

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

 
 
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From the very beginning of Local Woman Missing, the reader is caught up in the intensity of lives turned upside down.

We meet the various friends and neighbors, soon seeing how the characters all have flaws and issues, and when the women begin disappearing, we think we might understand what has happened to each of them. But by the end of the story, we are stunned by the truth when it is finally revealed.

Parts of the story were confusing, as we try to sort through all the lies and secrets. Characters that seemed like good people…were not.

I held my breath as the details filtered down to us. I couldn’t believe how many people were caught up in the morass of evil that stemmed from a seemingly good person. 4.5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, BY CAROLA LOVERING

Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips—she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family—she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.

But now Burke—handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before—says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past—or will he find his way into her future?

On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.

 

 

A story that twists and turns repeatedly throughout, Too Good To Be True spotlights bits and pieces via alternating narrators and letters written by two of the characters to their therapist.

Not only the present is revealed, but a story that began thirty years before, which yields just enough about the characters to keep us guessing. And then we are also gifted with the motives that were carefully hidden and finally out in the open.

I was hooked from the beginning but had issues with several of the characters. My favorite was Skye, as she had vulnerabilities that made me want to protect her. As for the others, I was not sorry to see them finally pay some consequences, but in my opinion, they did not pay enough. A 4.5 star read that kept me engaged throughout.

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REVIEW: HER DARK LIES, BY J. T. ELLISON

 

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

 

 

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Claire Hunter is the first-person narrator of Her Dark Lies for most of the story. But an unknown alternate narrator keeps us on our toes as we try to figure out the secrets each of the characters is keeping.

First, we are not completely sure that Jack isn’t hiding important events, and even each of his family members are suspect.

Strange events keep unfolding in the week before the wedding, and suddenly people begin dying, one by one.

Twists and turns kept me turning the pages as I tried to decide who and what to believe. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE PUSH, BY CLAIRE MCGOWAN

 

 

The party should have been perfect: six couples from the same baby group, six newborns, a luxurious house. But not everything has gone to plan, and while some are here to celebrate, others have sorrows to drown. When someone falls from the balcony of the house, the secrets and conflicts within the group begin to spill out …

DS Alison Hegarty, herself struggling with infertility, is called in to investigate. She’s convinced the fall was not an accident, and finds the new parents have a lot to hide. Wealthy Ed and Monica show off their newborn while their teenage daughter is kept under virtual house arrest. Hazel and Cathy conceived their longed-for baby via an anonymous sperm donor—or so Hazel thinks. Anita and Jeremy planned to adopt from America, but there’s no sign of the child. Kelly, whose violent boyfriend disrupted previous group sessions, came to the party even though she lost her baby. And then there’s Jax, who’s been experiencing strange incidents for months—almost like someone’s out to get her. Is it just a difficult pregnancy? Or could it be payback for something she did in the past?

It’s a nightmare of a case, and as events get even darker it begins to look impossible. Only one thing is clear: they all have something to hide. And for one of them, it’s murder.

 
 
 

The Push zooms in on the lives of the parents in the baby group, before and after the event at the barbecue. Each time we are swept back and forth in time, we learn more hidden details. Secrets are slowly revealed. Someone is sending threatening messages to Jax, her cat disappears, and suddenly her car is inexplicably tampered with. Are all these events connected? Her boyfriend Aaron is searching for his birth mother, and strangely, an unknown person seems to be stalking them both.

What happened on that balcony, and how do the mysterious connections between several of the group members play a role in the increased tensions that came to a breaking point?

Jax was the most interesting character, and seemingly had the most to hide. But Monica, basking in her “perfection,” appeared to be the most likely one to have dark buried untruths lurking beneath that vacuous exterior. And how does her teenage daughter Chloe fit into the drama?

Additional mysterious elements include the identity of the victim for a good part of the story. Once that was unveiled, the clues fell into place for me. I knew that several characters played a role, so as events unfolded, the answers felt as simple as snapping together a puzzle. 5 stars.

 
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