REVIEW: HER ONE MISTAKE, BY HEIDI PERKS

 

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

My Thoughts: What a whirlwind ride! Her One Mistake begins  as a lost child scenario, but as alternating narrators reveal more of the story, we see that the players in this layered and deceptive drama are not who they seem to be.

Harriet and Brian caught my interest early on, as there was something very odd about their dynamic. While townsfolk, along with the media, point a finger at Charlotte, they should be paying attention to the two of them.

As the story unfolds, I must stop the revelations, to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say you will hang on tight throughout this breathless ride…and you will not be disappointed. 5 stars.

***
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CURL UP WITH “THE FUTURES”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s featured book is The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak, is a dazzling debut novel about love and betrayal, in which a young couple moves to New York City in search of success-only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

 

 

 

Intro: (Prologue – Julia)

It was a story that made sense.  An old story, but one that felt truer for it.  Young love goes stale and slackens.  You change, and you shed what you no longer need.  It’s just part of growing up.

I thought I had understood.  It seemed so simple at the time.

We moved in on a humid morning in June.  Our suitcases bumped and scuffed the walls as we climbed three flights of stairs, the rest of the boxes and furniture waiting unguarded in the foyer.  The locks were clunky and finicky, resistant on the first few attempts.  Sunlight streamed through the smudged windows, and the floorboards creaked beneath our weight.  The apartment looked smaller than it had before, on the day we signed our lease.  “I’m going down for some boxes,” Evan said, holding the door open with one foot.  “You coming?”

***

Teaser:  I was silent.  I waited for him to look up at me, but he wouldn’t.  He kept his palms pressed up against his eyes, like a child willing a monster to disappear.  After a minute, he said it again.  “Julia.  What should I do?”

***

Synopsis:  Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia–blond, beautiful, and rich–fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.

With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work–a deal that, despite the assurances of his Machiavellian boss, begins to seem more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of live. As the economy craters, and as Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more–good and bad–than they’d ever imagined.

Rich in suspense and insight, Anna Pitoniak’s gripping debut reveals the fragile yet enduring nature of our connections: to one another and to ourselves. THE FUTURES is a glittering story of a couple coming of age, and a searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in New York City, a place that so often seems determined to break us down–but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.

***

What do you think?  Do the excerpts make you want to keep reading?

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LET’S CURL UP WITH “THE TROPHY CHILD”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

My spotlight today turns to an e-ARC from NetGalley, with a release date of March 7, 2017.  The Trophy Child, by Paula Daly, is a richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love, an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.

 

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Intro:  (Monday, September 21)

The girls’ changing room smelled heavily of sweat, mud and a sickly-sweet deodorant that was beginning to irritate the back of her throat.  She didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for hockey.  Not a lot of enthusiasm for school, full stop, now that she was on a probationary period.  It was to be a period of indeterminate length, during which her behavior would be monitored by a variety of well-meaning professionals.

Verity Bloom:  not quite a lost cause.

Not yet.

***

Teaser:  (Part Two: Monday, October 5)

Verity could hear classical music playing in a far-away room.  She had no idea who the composer was but she recognized the piece from a car-insurance commercial.  After gawping at Jeremy Gleeson’s set of watercolours for what felt like the hundredth time, she decided he must be running late and so she pulled out Educating Rita from her rucksack. (42%).

***

Synopsis:  Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility.

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

***

I love how this author zeroes in on complex family issues and keeps me turning the pages.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: THE OTHER TYPIST, BY SUZANNE RINDELL

 

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Everything about Rose Baker seemed prim and proper, from her “unremarkable” appearance to her orderly way of approaching each task. Her childhood spent in an orphanage set the tone for how her life would unfold, including her time spent as a typist in a police precinct.

Until the day “the other typist” walked into the precinct and seemingly tugged at a feeling that Rose had, as yet, not experienced. At that point, Odalie Lazare became the object of her obsession.

The Other Typist is narrated in Rose’s first person voice, and as she tells the story from her perspective, we learn that it is set in the mid-1920s, a time that would become real and visual in every way. We can almost feel what she feels as she describes her impressions of Odalie, her experiences with her as the two become confidantes and then roommates. The mysterious Odalie would become the center of Rose’s universe.

Nights in speakeasies, getaways to the beach, and entry into a world previously unknown…all would inform the days, weeks, and months of Rose’s life with Odalie as a friend.

So how did everything go so wrong? What, if anything, had Odalie done to set events in motion? What could anyone do or say to change the outcome of one fateful night? How did Rose become someone even she herself did not recognize? Had she been tricked and played, or was she simply a very unreliable narrator who might fool any one of us?

I could see it all coming, of course, as Rose’s narrative dropped hints along the way. But the ending completely stunned me…and I then began to question my own conclusions. Definitely a book I would recommend for anyone who loves a thriller with unexpected twists. 5 stars.

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE GOOD LIAR, BY NICHOLAS SEARLE

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Roy and Betty met on an Internet dating site, in the final “chapters” of their lives. These two octogenarians seem like an unlikely combination, but they each have an agenda. His, to play his final con, and hers, perhaps, for companionship. Although as the pages turn, I sometimes wonder about that, as she seems perfectly content whenever he is away on one of his “business” trips.

They settle into her cute little cottage and he meets her children, who don’t like him at all. But Betty seems to blithely ignore their concerns.

He has a certain smarmy charm, but it is interesting to watch as the author peels back the layers, and he does this with time periods, too, taking the reader back to the nineties, then the seventies, the sixties, all the way back to the 30s. We see what makes Roy tick.

What is Roy’s endgame? Is it simply a financial situation for him? Or is there more to his plan? Why does Betty seem so passive, when many indicators suggest that she is smart and more aware than she lets on?

As the answers come in The Good Liar, I am stunned by the intricacy of the plot and how it all unfolds. A very satisfying conclusion, although there were a few too many layers to keep my interest all the way through. I did enjoy arriving at the endgame, however. A 3.5 read.

REVIEW: SECRET SISTERS, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

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Eighteen years ago, on Cooper Island in the San Juans, two young girls are targeted by a guest at the Aurora Point Hotel. When the man grabs one of them, Edith Chase, her grandmother, takes action, and what she does leads to them moving away and turning their back on the old hotel.

Now, shortly after her grandmother’s death, Madeline has inherited the Sanctuary Creek chain of hotels. Jack Rayner, head of her security team, has just helped her deal with a personal problem, so when she gets a call from Tom Lomax, the caretaker on Cooper Island, the two of them head off to see what is happening.

When they arrive, they discover a whole series of problems, beginning with Tom’s murder. A missing briefcase linked to the long-ago secret lead to them finding Madeline’s friend and secret sister Daphne Knight in Denver, who has just discovered that someone ransacked her condo.

On the island, they are joined by Jack’s brother and partner Abe, and together begin sorting through the clues. How are the powerful Webster family, so-called “owners” of the island, connected to the events in the present? Do Egan and Louisa have secrets from the past, too? Are the sons Travis and Xavier involved? Explosions, murders, and many dastardly deeds turn up a slew of suspects, some more nefarious than the others. The story held plenty of suspense, a bit of romance, and a satisfactory resolution.

Secret Sisters was a twisted and somewhat convoluted tale that kept me rapidly turning pages, wondering how Jack and his associates would sort it all out. Even when I thought we had the bad guys identified, there were more loose ends that kept me reading. A perfect 5 star read, since I couldn’t stop reading…and hadn’t figured it all out until the end.

REVIEW: THE BLACK WIDOW, BY WENDY CORSI STAUB

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What do singles do when they are suffering the pangs of lost love? In the world of online connections, dating sites proliferate, and sometimes the singles find new love…for a while, anyway.

How does Gaby Duran end up joining such a site, and what does she think when she realizes that her ex-husband Ben is also using the same InTune site?

Her mind travels back to times when they were happy and in love, with their beautiful baby Josh…and then the tragedy of his loss. Could any marriage survive?

Meanwhile, an alternate story follows a woman who calls herself Alex Jones, who has conversations in her head with her “husband” Carmen Rodriguez. Her story unfolds in bits and pieces, and we begin to see that she is anything but sane. Where would her craziness take her? Why is she picking up a certain type of male through her InTunes site—Hispanic single men—and spiking their drinks. What does she do with them in her cellar? And what happens to them when she has finished with them?

After several men of this type turn up missing over a period of months, the police, with the help of Gaby and another woman whose friend is missing, begin to uncover the clues leading to a very strange scene in the forest.

Because the alternating narrators added to the intensifying suspense, I could not stop reading. The Black Widow was a page-turner, and while it was not readily apparent how far this woman would go to achieve her goals, I was glued to the pages to see what would happen to the characters I was rooting for. 4.5 stars.

MONTHLY WRAP-UP: SOME FABULOUS READS!

 

Wow!  How could August be over already?  Summer is ending, and it all just flew by.  The good news:  I read more books this month than last.  The not-so-good news: not as many as some previous months.

There were some stunning books on my stack.  Click the titles for my reviews, and tell me about your month.

***

 

AUGUST 2015:

1.  Apple & Rain (e-book), by Sarah Crossan – 329 pages – (coming-of-age fiction) – 8/12/15

2.  At Risk (e-book), by Alice Hoffman – 274 pages – (historical fiction) – 8/8/15

3.  A Window Opens (e-book), by Elisabeth Egan – 384 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/4/15 (NetGalley)

4.  Before the Storm (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – 437 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/31/15

5.   Cold Spring Harbor (e-book), by Richard Yates – 178 pages – (literary fiction) – 8/17/15

6.   Friday on My Mind, by Nicci French – 375 pages – (suspense thriller/mystery) – 8/10/15

7.   In the Unlikely Event (e-book), by Judy Blume – 397 pages – (historical fiction) – 8/30/15

8.  Lost Lake (e-book), by Sarah Addison Allen – 294 pages – (fantasy/contemporary fiction) – 8/7/15.

9.   Mistake I Made, The (e-book), by Paula Daly – 368 pages – (suspense thriller) – 8/24/15- (NetGalley)

10. My Real Children (e-book), by Jo Walton – 320 pages – (historical fiction) – 8/22/15

11. One Moment, One Morning (e-book), by Sarah Rayner – 416 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/26/15

12.  Summer Girls, The (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe – 380 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/20/15

13.  We Never Asked for Wings, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – 294 – (literary fiction) – 8/15/15 (Amazon Vine)

14.  X (Kinsey Millhone #24) (e-book), by Sue Grafton – 416 pages – (suspense/mystery) – 8/14/15 (NetGalley)

***

BOOKS READ IN AUGUST 2015:  14

PAGES READ IN AUGUST 2015:   4,862

BOOKS READ YTD:  123

FAVORITE FICTION READ IN AUGUST –  Tied:   The Mistake I Made & The Summer Girls

***

LET’S CURL UP & READ “SECRET SISTERS”

wow logo on march 25Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, our special day for sharing upcoming book releases.  Hop on over to Breaking the Spine to find out what everyone else is excited about.

It has been a wonderful year so far, in terms of great books on my shelves.  I am always looking forward to the next new release from favorite authors, so today’s book fits in with that particular quest.

Secret Sisters, from Jayne Ann Krentz, is an exciting romantic suspense novel coming on December 8, 2015.

 

 

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Blurb:  Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same.

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants.

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

***

I love books with suspense, a little romance, and stories about sisters.  Even if the sisterhood is more about friendship, and even when the relationship is challenging.

What are you eagerly awaiting?

***

REVIEW: HUSH HUSH, BY LAURA LIPPMAN

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Twelve years ago, a young mother named Melisandre Dawes locked her infant daughter in the car on a hot day. The baby’s death led to charges, but after a mistrial and then a retrial with a judge, the mother was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

After years of not seeing her older two daughters, Alanna and Ruby, now 17 and 15, Melisandre is seeking a reunion, facilitated by a filmed documentary that will capture the moment, along with her version of the story. Her story of the severe postpartum psychosis that led to the tragedy.

Harmony Burns, a young film maker, has set the process in motion.

Tess Monaghan has been hired by Melisandre’s attorney, Tyner Gray, to be in charge of security before and during filming. But nowadays, Tess is juggling work and the rearing of her three-year-old daughter Carla Scout, whom she co-parents with her partner Crow. Her insecurities about how she is managing it all add depth to the story.

But before the reunion can take place, the girls change their minds about the meeting, and suddenly other strange events happen, such as the arrival of a series of threatening notes. Both Tess and Melisandre are on the receiving end. The notes seem innocuous at first, but gradually reveal that someone is stalking them, someone who knows way too much about them.

Suddenly everything changes, as one after another near-tragedy followed by a death lead to a whole other kind of investigation for Tess. Who is the stalker, and what is behind it all? Why are Alanna and Ruby seemingly keeping secrets from the past? Who has leaked the news of the notes to the press?

Multiple narrators tell the story, set in Baltimore, and as we see it all unfold, we learn more about the characters and their motives. Melisandre is an unlikable, entitled woman whose wealth and privilege set her apart from most people in her orbit. She hires and fires willy-nilly, and expects others to jump to her every command.

Alanna is a disturbed young woman showing the effects of life’s traumas, and the secrets she keeps are dangerous ones.

Ruby is an eavesdropper who learns much of what is going on in this manner. What she does with some of her secrets brings the story to a crucial point.

Stephen Dawes, the ex-husband, has a new wife, Felicia, and a new baby, Joey. He is very controlling and secretive as well.

And almost behind the scenes in Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel, Aunt Kitty adds her own special voice.

As the story moves along at a comfortable pace, the suspense ratchets up unexpectedly, followed by a seamless, yet stunning reveal. And then comes a feel-good scenario that left me smiling. 5.0 stars.