Book 186: RUIN FALLS Review



Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
ISBN: 9780345549075 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345549082 (ebook)
ASIN: B00G8EKYTY  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood. On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in. Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Though she knows that Ally and Reid are safe, Liz will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.


Liz and Paul Daniels seem to have it all: a beautiful family a wonderful marriage, and similar life goals. They have a large beautiful home in the country, Paul has a job he loves teaching at a local college, and Liz has a small, thriving boutique business growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They both feel that they need to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint, drive a hybrid vehicle, and want to do their very best to ensure their children aren’t physically polluted by GMO foods, preservatives, etc. All seems well when the Daniels’ family sets off to visit Paul’s parents in western New York. After a day’s drive, fraught with reckless drivers, Paul agrees to allow the family to spend the night at a hotel on the road. Disaster strikes as Liz wakes up the next morning to find that her children are gone. Just when the horror of the children being abducted sinks in, Paul disappears. What could make her loving husband abduct their children? Where could they possibly have gone? 

Ruin Falls spotlights one of a parent’s worst nightmares, their children being abducted. Liz knows that the police aren’t taking her seriously and since she hasn’t found any clues at Paul’s parents’ farm she heads back home. Tired, anxious, and stressed to the max, Liz embarks on a quest to find the truth. Her search overlaps with other tales of spousal abuse, overbearing parents, and sheer madness. The more Liz learns, the more questions she finds need to be answered, but can she uncover all of the answers before her children are gone forever?

I found Ruin Falls to be a fast-paced read. Each family’s story provides vital clues into what is happening. I don’t think of Ruin Falls as a mystery so much as a suspense thriller. Liz endures quite a bit in her search for her children and it is this endurance and the inherent obstacles that add to the overall build of tension within the story. Ms. Milchman has created another mesmerizing tale of family dysfunction with very realistic, multidimensional characters that will grab you from the very beginning. If you enjoy suspense thrillers with a family element, then Ruin Falls is the perfect book for you. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Milchman in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. 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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Book 7: COVER OF SNOW Review

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman
ISBN: 9780345534217 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345534231 (ebook)
ASIN: B00957T4ZG (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown. . .and its darkest secrets hidden.


Nora and Brendan Hamilton had, by all appearances, a happy marriage and good life. At least that’s what Nora thought before she woke up one morning and found that her husband had committed suicide. The only question that Nora can focus on is why? After the funeral and life for most of the residents of Wedeskyull, New York returns to a sense of normalcy, Nora begins her quest to answer why her husband killed himself. Little does she know that this quest is placing not only her life, but the lives of others in grave danger. Will she be able to uncover the truth before she is silenced?


I found the first few chapters of Cover of Snow to read a little slow and my focus on the book began to pall. However, after setting aside the book for a few hours, I found myself immersed into Nora’s world and intrigue and read to the last page without interruption. Brendan’s personal history is slowly revealed over the course of the book, and it’s almost as if we are learning about Brendan at the same as Nora. The relationship between Nora and her sister Teggie came across just as loving and sometimes awkward as most sibling relationships during moments of personal trials. Teggie is loving, supportive and understanding, as well as impatient and brutally honest with Nora. But it is perhaps Teggie’s impatience as much as the local mishaps in Wedeskyull that push Nora forward. 

Nora is portrayed as an outsider that had married into the Wedeskyull family. At first her marriage and connection to the Hamilton family are a plus but they quickly become more of a curse or hindrance as she continues to investigate her husband’s death. She doesn’t have the support of her mother-in-law or the police department. She’s constantly cautioned to let things go and forget about the past. But the more Nora learns, the more she realizes that she didn’t really know anyone in this small town and that there isn’t anyone she can trust. Nora is fighting the harsh weather just as much as she is fighting against the natural tendency of small town’s residents desire to keep and protect secrets of the past. I enjoyed the twists and turns Nora takes as she searches for the truth. I thought that Ms. Milchman did an admirable job in describing life in a small town as well as in creating a mystery-suspense read that kept me guessing until the bitter end. If you enjoy mystery-suspense and are seeking something new to read, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Cover of Snow.  

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. 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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