2015 Book 388: PRETTY GIRLS by Karin Slaughter



Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 9780062429056 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062430878 (HarperLuxe)
ISBN: 9780062429063 (ebook)
ASIN: B00VES8D6K (Kindle version)
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow


#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.  


Claire Scott is the perfect wife and is married to the perfect husband. At least she thought she was married to the perfect husband until he was murdered and she finds he was keeping plenty of secrets from her. Lydia Delgado is far from perfect, but she has turned her life around and continues to struggle to do the best for herself and her daughter. These two sisters come together to search for the truth in Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

Claire Scott and Lydia Delgado are sisters that have already lived through one tragedy. Their oldest sister, Julia, disappeared twenty-four years ago and that disappearance ripped their family apart. Lydia was already on her way to becoming a wild child, experimenting with drugs before succumbing to addiction. Claire was the quiet, perfect child that grew into the quiet, unassuming, perfect adult. Claire’s life is torn apart when her husband is killed at the hands of a mugger. Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she arrives back at her home after her husband’s funeral to find out there was a burglary attempt. While trying to find documentation on the valuables in the home, she uncovers some truly nasty porn on her husband’s computer. Shocked and shamed, she does the only thing she can think of and turns it over to the police. But the local police chief tells her it is only a “snuff” film and not a very good one at that. Claire doesn’t quite believe him and turns to her sister Lydia for assistance. What they discover leads them to believe these “films” are linked to current and possibly past abductions/disappearances. Why is the FBI involved in a local murder case? What exactly was Paul Scott involved in before he was murdered? Can Claire and Lydia find out the truth before it is too late?

I found Pretty Girls to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. The story is just as much about the abduction/disappearance of Julia and how a family survives without closure, as it is the present murder of Claire’s husband and the current abduction/disappearances. Ms. Slaughter has crafted a hauntingly beautiful story about family, secrets, betrayal, and survival. The characters are realistic and well-developed. The storylines (and there are stories within stories within stories presented) are wholly believable. There are good guys, not-so-good guys, and really bad guys, and times when it is difficult to determine who the really bad guys are from the not-so-good guys (much like life). Claire is presented as “perfect,” but she is just as flawed as Lydia. I liked that they were able to overcome their past and come together as sisters in the present. Obviously, there’s a lot more going on in this story, and no I’m not going to reveal everything (buy the book!). Just in case you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty Girls and can highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys reading suspense-thrillers. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Slaughter, Pretty Girls is an excellent place to start.


Read an excerpt from Pretty Girls here .

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss and a print copy via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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2015 Book 370: THE WORD GAME by Steena Holmes



The Word Game by Steena Holmes 
ISBN: 9781503947139 (paperback)

ISBN: 9781503949430 (hardcover)

ASIN: B00V1YIYF2 (Kindle edition)

Publication date: November 3, 2015 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

For overprotective parent Alyson Ward, any time her daughter, Lyla, is out of sight is reason to panic. So it’s a big step for her when she lets Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin’s house. Comforted by the knowledge that her sister, Tricia, is the chaperone, Alyson does the one thing she never thought possible: she lets go and trusts that her daughter will be safe.

But Alyson’s sense of peace is short lived. When Lyla comes home the next morning, she reveals something that could tear apart not only their family but also the entire community. Now, Alyson and Tricia must confront their painful shared past as they come together to help a little girl who they fear might be harboring terrible secrets similar to their own. Will the sisters be strong enough to face their demons in order to protect the child, even if it means telling their most private truths? 



Alyson “Aly” Ward is the quintessential helicopter mom. She’s not overbearing, but she is overly protective and hyper-vigilant about her daughter and her daughter’s activities. Aly’s behavior stems from a childhood incident involving a neighbor and an attempted molestation. In Aly’s mind, this event was made even worse because her mother didn’t really believe her accusations. Now Aly must decide whether to err on the side of caution or do what must be done to protect another child in The Word Game by Steena Holmes.

Although Aly is considered a helicopter mom, she isn’t a tiger mom always making excuses for her child no matter the occasion. Aly trusts her daughter and knows that she wouldn’t lie about events that took place at her sister’s house during a sleep over. When Aly seeks to gain more insight from her sister, Tricia, and niece, Katy, she’s immediately placed on the offensive. Aly’s only recourse is to ask for advice from her friend, Rachel, who just happens to be the principal at the elementary school. What happens next is much more than a she-said versus she-said event or one person rushing to judgment; it is the emotional and physical health and well-being of a young child at stake. Has Aly jumped to conclusions? How far is too far when a child’s safety is a stake? Will her efforts to protect a child from a potentially abusive relationship cause irreparable harm to not only the family of the child in question but to her family as well? 

The Word Game is a touching story about one community and child molestation. Aly is an overprotective mom, but she has good cause to be concerned as she was the victim of sexual abuse as a child. Yes, she may have leaped to conclusions in the past about certain situations, but she’s always done what she feels is the right thing to do in order to protect children that might be in a harmful situation. Aly is not only fighting against her family in order to protect a possibly endangered girl, but she’s also fighting against her memories of the past. The Word Game deals with some harsh topics, namely child molestation, but it does so in a respectful manner without providing graphic details. This in no way lessens the emotional horror felt on behalf of a young child dealing with sexual abuse. Ms. Holmes has once again provided a stirring story that packs an emotional wallop without detracting from its readability. Is it possible to enjoy reading a story that deals with such a horrific topic? Yes, it is, especially when it is done tastefully and Ms. Holmes has done just that with The Word Game.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley and BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain’s compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   



Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she’s told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain’s latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in “pretend” therapy, based on the idea that “if you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.” He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly’s “mother” or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly’s birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father’s book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father’s death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She’s told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that’s not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she’s been pretending to be an orphan won’t make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father’s death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly’s story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child’s life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn’t lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child’s love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she’s been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn’t possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you’ll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

















Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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