Book Review: NEVER TELL by Stacey Abrams

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery
ISBN: 9781250805829 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781250847645 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250847881 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250841575 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B094L8S6LD (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0966B2CTW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Page Count: 320
Release Date: January 25, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Psychological Suspense | Romantic Suspense

From popular political leader and lawyer Stacey Abrams comes a reissue of her romantic suspense novel, Never Tell, written under the name Selena Montgomery.

Criminal psychologist Dr. Erin Abbott wants nothing more than to live a quiet life. That means no danger, no intrigue—and absolutely no romance. But when Erin suspects a serial killer is roaming New Orleans, her investigation throws her straight into the arms of the only man who can help her.

Journalist Gabriel Moss is hot to find his next huge story—and he knows Erin is on to something big. From the moment they meet, Gabriel senses that Erin is hiding something. One thing is certain: Erin’s boxy suits and sensible shoes hide a delicate beauty waiting to emerge…and Gabriel is just the man to reveal the woman inside.

As they join forces to find the killer, Gabriel slowly seduces Erin with his soft kisses. But Erin knows their love can never be. For she is hiding a terrible secret—and if Gabriel reveals the truth, Erin’s life will be shattered forever…

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Dr. Erin Abbott knows that there’s someone playing a deadly game of “find me.” All of the clues are tied to a secret past life and the deceased mentor in that past life. Erin thought she was starting anew in New Orleans. Wearing dowdy clothing and trying to be as unappealing and unassuming as possible was supposed to be her mask. Unfortunately, the ABC killer knows all about Erin’s past, and journalist Gabriel Moss isn’t fooled by her disguise. Fortunately, Gabriel does believe Erin’s declarations about a local serial killer. The more Gabriel and Erin uncover, the more Erin realizes each murder is linked to her, and those links are benign acquaintances. Not wanting any other innocent to die because of her, Erin tries to push Gabriel away in order to protect not only him but his sister. But Gabriel isn’t budging. Can they uncover the motivations of the killer and the killer’s identity before it’s too late and someone else dies?

I’m an eclectic reader, but one of my go-to genres for the past two years has been romance, especially romantic suspense. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when offered the opportunity to read and review Never Tell by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery. Although billed as a romance or romantic suspense story, the romance (in my opinion), plays a close second to the psychological suspense that builds with Erin’s attempts to preserve her secrets and secret identity while facing the killer’s taunts head-on. Yes, there’s a definite romance factor and a bit of steaminess, and the relationship between Erin and Gabriel is definitely important, but there are quite a number of other things going on as well: murder, psychological torture, physical abuse, physical torture, psychological and mental abuse, and more. Ms. Abrams has taken quite a number of dark topics and combined them into one immensely readable story. Although the abuse elements might be a trigger for some, I felt it was presented with a deft touch that didn’t diminish the impact of the abuse or provide detailed descriptions that might be repulsive. Never Tell isn’t exactly a light read due to the topics presented, but it is one I found to be intriguing. For those of you into slightly darker reads, I encourage you to grab a copy of Never Tell to read. I’m putting Never Tell on my TBRR or to be re-read list.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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.”

Cover Reveal: WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW by Susan Furlong

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong Banner

What They Don’t Know

by Susan Furlong

November 16, 2021 Cover Reveal Celebration

Synopsis:

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong

Unrelenting psychological suspense with a wicked twist …

Mona Ellison is living a dream life. A successful husband, loving son, beautiful home, an amazing group of friends… you could say that everything is perfect.

Until it isn’t.

When her son becomes entangled with the wrong crowd, ditches college plans, and runs away from home for a life of partying, Mona is upset, but boys will be boys, right? He’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry. At least that’s what she tells her friends.

Only she suspects something different.

Then the police knock on Mona’s door. A young girl has turned up dead, and her missing son is the prime suspect.

Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona embarks on a search that puts her on a twisty trail of social media clues and a rollercoaster ride of lies and betrayal until she lands on a truth that changes her perception of everything. Now, the only thing Mona knows is that she can’t trust anyone…not even herself.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Published by: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: 05/17/2022
Number of Pages: 240
ISBN: 1645060403

Author Bio:

Susan Furlong

Susan Furlong is the author of several mysteries including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series, and Shattered Justice, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. She also contributes, under a pen name, to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series. Her eleventh novel, What They Don’t Know, will release in May 2022. She resides in Illinois with her husband and children.

Catch Up With Susan Furlong:
www.SusanFurlong.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @susanfurlong
Twitter – @Furlong_Sue
Facebook – @SusanFurlongAuthor

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Guest Post: D.M. Barr – MURDER WORTH THE WEIGHT

Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr BannerGood day, book people. Can you believe we almost to the end of another month? Time really seems to be flying by lately and, for some reason, I don’t have enough time to read all the books I want to read. I hope you’re not having a similar problem. As we enjoy the cooler weather, it’s the perfect time of year to cuddle up under a blanket, grab your favorite beverage, and catch up on our reading. Today, I’ll hope you’ll cuddle with your blanket and beverage and visit awhile with today’s guest author. I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog today’s guest, D.M. Barr, the incredibly gifted and talented author of Murder Worth the Weight. Ms. Barr will be discussing side plots with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, and suggest you add Murder Worth the Weight to your Fall TBR read list. Thank you, Ms. Barr, for returning today, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

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One of my favorite side plots from Murder Worth the Wait involves Benji’s, the dueling piano bar that’s featured in the story. It’s not only a setting for many of the scenes, but the pianists play a role as well.

My husband first discovered the dueling piano bar concept on a business trip, where he encountered one of the many Howl at the Moon clubs. Being a skilled piano player and songwriter (when he isn’t being a lawyer—check out www.broadjam.com/biggerinperson if you’d like to hear his work), he came home and excitedly described the concept to me: Two pianos, facing each other, played by very adept and personable pianists who could improvise (both musically and comically) on demand, take requests from the audience, and invite audience participation. A third musician, often a drummer, accompanied the pianists. Requests that were accompanied by payment often got played more quickly and a grand time is had by all, although because commentary by the performers could turn ribald, it was definitely an R-rated experience.

My husband Josh doesn’t get enthusiastic all that often (read: never) so I took note and on our next vacation, I booked our family aboard a European cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic, which featured both Howl at the Moon and a version of Second City, an improv comedy venue (we met studying improv; he was with the touring company of Chicago City Limits where I was a groupie and a student.) On our first night aboard, we attended our first HATM performance, where I submitted a $20 bill along with request that read, “Please play Johnny Be Good” though I’ve never known anyone to play it better than my husband.” My ploy worked because the next thing we knew, they invited Josh on stage to play, and his talent must have surprised them because from that night on, they called him up every performance to play (usually Elton John songs, because that’s his specialty) and dubbed him “Big Daddy.”

Did I mention I’m a groupie? Seeing my husband on stage brought back memories of how we met, when he played piano for Chicago City Limit’s touring company and improvised music along with their skits. I was even prouder when the Howl at the Moon performers, Orin Sands, James Sakal, and Rhonda Hughes, invited my son on stage to play and sing Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Even my daughter got in on the act, really letting loose and belting a few numbers. We’d close down the venue at 1:00 a.m. and then go for late night munchies with the performers. Josh started getting recognized by other cruisers. It was truly our best vacation ever.

The HATM performers became friends after the cruise, and we’ve sailed with them and other dueling pianists (Whitney Maxwell and James Byrom, to name a few) on various NCL cruises. And yes, they still call “Big Daddy” up to the stage every night when they’re performing and we’re in the audience, something for which I’m everlastingly grateful since it gives my husband an opportunity to perform. When I had the opportunity to commemorate our friendship by featuring them in Murder Worth the Weight, I jumped at it and am glad to say they were good sports and were okay with how I portrayed them—especially James who in real life, in not the diva in any way. Thank goodness he has a great sense of humor.

Another side plot in the book involves Rachel and her Cockney Rhyming Slang. My first boyfriend was a cadet-officer on the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2…yeah, I love ships) and he introduced me to this form of communication when I was just eighteen. Some readers take a bit of time catching on, but I loved embellishing this character’s quirkiness with this blast from my past. For those who want to learn more about Cockney Rhyming Slang, you can check out some phrases here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/09/guide-to-cockney-rhyming-slang and here: https://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words04/usage/slang_cockney.html. Enjoy!

Murder Worth the Weight

by D.M. Barr

September 13 – October 8, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr

Whenever Terry Mangel’s body acceptance revival meeting rolls into town, local diet execs and “fat shamers” turn up dead, often in grotesque, ironic ways. All single murders in small suburbs, no one’s noticed a pattern, until rookie investigative reporter Camarin Torres takes a closer look.

Torres is a crusader against discrimination. She reluctantly accepts a job offered by handsome publisher Lyle Fletcher, a man with a vendetta, who sees the recent college grad as salvation for Trend, his fledgling fashion magazine. Torres, however, detests everything the publication stands for, and joins solely to transform its judgmental, objectifying content.

As an unexpected romance blossoms, the overconfident, justice-hungry reporter defies orders and infiltrates Mangel’s world, only to find herself in the cross hairs of a vigilante group targeting the $60 billion diet industry. To this vindictive mob, murder is definitely worth the weight. But as Torres soon learns, unmasking the killer may save her life but shatter her heart: every clue seems to implicate Fletcher, her mercurial mentor and lover, as the group’s mastermind.

Previously published as Slashing Mona Lisa

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Published by: Punctuated Publishing
Publication Date: 08/09/2021
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 9780997711868
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Author Bio:

D.M. Barr

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, unlike as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings. As a yo-yo dieter, I’ve never offed anyone at my local diet clinic. While I’m a bit paranoid, I’ve never suspected my husband of wanting to murder me for my inheritance. Well, that’s not entirely true, but let’s go with that for now. And while I’ve volunteered at senior centers, I’ve never mastered the hula hoop. But that’s not to say I haven’t wanted to…

Catch Up With D.M. Barr:
DMBarr.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DMBarr
Instagram – @authordmbarr
Twitter – @authordmbarr
Facebook – @authordmbarr

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Book Showcase: THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf


This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778388111 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778309703 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488056291 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208737 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07Z9JKN6F   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07TFZSX76   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: May 12, 2020


Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.






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Read an Excerpt

Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe

Monday, June 15, 2020

As I slide out of my unmarked police car my swollen belly briefly gets wedged against the steering wheel. Sucking in my gut does little good but I manage to move the seat back and squeeze past the wheel. I swing my legs out the open door and glance furtively around the parking lot behind the Grotto Police Department to see if anyone is watching.

Almost eight months pregnant with a girl and not at my most graceful. I’m not crazy about the idea of one of my fellow officers seeing me try to pry myself out of this tin can. The coast appears to be clear so I begin the little ritual of rocking back and forth trying to build up enough momentum to launch myself out of the driver’s seat.

Once upright, I pause to catch my breath. The morning dew is already sending up steam from the weeds growing out of the cracked concrete. Sweating, I slowly make my way to the rear entrance of the Old Gray Lady, the nickname for the building we’re housed in. Built in the early 1900s, the first floor consists of the lobby, the finger printing and intake center, a community room, interview rooms and the jail. The second floor, which once held the old jail is home to the squad room and offices. The dank, dark basement holds a temperamental boiler and the department archives.

The Grotto Police Department has sixteen sworn officers that includes the chief, two lieutenants, a K-9 patrol officer, nine patrol officers, a school resource officer and two detectives. I’m detective number two.

I grew up in Grotto, a small river town of about ten thousand that sits among a circuitous cave system known as Grotto Caves State Park, the most extensive in Iowa. Besides being a favorite destination spot for families, hikers and spelunkers, Grotto is known for its high number of family owned farms – a dying breed. My husband Shaun and I are part of that breed – we own an apple orchard and tree farm.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have to roll you in,” an irritatingly familiar voice calls out from behind me.

I don’t bother turning around. “Francis, that wasn’t funny the first fifty times you said it and it still isn’t,” I say as I scan my key card to let us in.

Behind me, Pete Francis, rookie officer and all-around caveman grabs the door handle and in a rare show of chivalry opens it so I can step through. “You know I’m just joking,” Francis says giving me the grin that all the young ladies in Grotto seem to find irresistible but just gives me another reason to roll my eyes.

“With the wrong person, those kinds of jokes will land you in sensitivity training,” I remind him.

“Yeah, but you’re not the wrong person, right?” he says seriously, “You’re cool with it?”

I wave to Peg behind the reception desk and stop at the elevator and punch the number two button. The police department only has two levels but I’m in no mood to climb up even one flight of stairs today. “Do I look like I’m okay with it?” I ask him.

Francis scans me up and down. He takes in my brown hair pulled back in a low bun, wayward curls springing out from all directions, my eyes red from lack of sleep, my untucked shirt, the fabric stretched tight against my round stomach, my sturdy shoes that I think are tied, but I can’t know for sure because I can’t see over my boulder-sized belly.

“Sorry,” he says appropriately contrite and wisely decides to take the stairs rather than ride the elevator with me.

“You’re forgiven,” I call after him. As I step on the elevator to head up to my desk, I check my watch. My appointment with the chief is at eight and though he didn’t tell me what the exact reason is for this meeting I think I can make a pretty good guess.

It can’t be dictated as to when I have to go on light duty, seven months into my pregnancy, but it’s probably time. I’m guessing that Chief Digby wants to talk with me about when I want to begin desk duty or take my maternity leave. I get it.

It’s time I start to take it easy. I’ve either been the daughter of a cop or a cop my entire life but I’m more than ready to set it aside for a while and give my attention, twenty-four-seven to the little being inhabiting my uterus.

Shaun and I have been trying for a baby for a long, long time. And thousands of dollars and dozens of procedures later, when we finally found out we were pregnant, Shaun started calling her peanut because the only thing I could eat for the first nine weeks without throwing up was peanut butter sandwiches. The name stuck.

This baby is what we want more than anything in the world but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a little bit scared. I’m used to toting around a sidearm not an infant.

The elevator door opens to a dark paneled hallway lined with ten by sixteen framed photos of all the men who served as police chief of Grotto over the years. I pass by eleven photos before I reach the portrait of my father. Henry William Kennedy, 1995 – 2019, the plaque reads.

While the other chiefs stare out from behind the glass with serious expressions, my dad smiles showing his straight, white teeth. He was so proud when he was named chief of police. We were all proud, except maybe my older brother, Colin. God knows what Colin thought of it. As a teenager he was pretty self-absorbed, but I guess I was too, especially after my best friend died. I went off the rails for a while but here I am now. A Grotto PD detective, following in my dad’s footsteps. I think he’s proud of me too. At least when he remembers.

Last time I brought my dad back here to visit, we walked down this long corridor and paused at his photo. For a minute I thought he might make a joke, say something like, Hey, who’s that good looking guy? But he didn’t say anything. Finding the right words is hard for him now. Occasionally, his frustration bubbles over and he yells and sometimes even throws things which is hard to watch. My father has always been a very gentle man.

The next portrait in line is our current police chief, Les Digby. No smile on his tough guy mug. He was hired a month ago, taking over for Dexter Stroope who acted as the interim chief after my dad retired. Les is about ten years older than I am, recently widowed with two teenage sons. He previously worked for the Ransom Sheriff’s Office and I’m trying to decide if I like him. Jury’s still out.



Excerpt from This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf. 
Copyright © 2020 by Heather Gudenkauf. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. 



Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.



This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books

2020 Book 62: THE OTHER MRS. by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica
ISBN: 9780778369110 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488099601 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208157 (audiobook – digital)
ISBN: 9781094097886 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B07XVPBRMV  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07PRMP8GY  (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: February 18, 2020


Propulsive and addictive, The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs.

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.





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Will and Dr. Sadie Fount have relocated their family from Chicago, Illinois to a small coastal island in Maine. Ostensibly the reason for this relocation is Will’s sister’s death by suicide and their guardianship over Will’s 16-year-old niece Imogen. Reality is a bit more nuanced than that. Their eldest son Otto was being bullied at school and facing expulsion for bringing a knife to school. Sadie dealt with a death from a routine procedure at her job as an emergency room physician, suffered a bit of a breakdown, and subsequently resigned rather than deal with seeing a therapist. The only two members of the family that apparently had no issues in Chicago and are having no difficulties adjusting to life in Maine are Will and 7-year-old Tate. The move has been difficult for 14-year-old Otto and Will’s niece doesn’t seem to want anyone around, much less her uncle and his family. Sadie is trying to adapt to being a small-town physician, her marriage is a bit shaky, and she’s experiencing some lost time. She initially writes this off as being due to the change from city to more rural life, the bustle of the small-town medical practice versus the well-staffed metropolitan emergency room, and just living in a somewhat gloomy house where someone died by suicide. Things aren’t great in Maine, but they are progressing until one of the Founts’ neighbors is found murdered, discovered by the woman’s 6-year-old stepdaughter while the child’s father is traveling out of the country on business. Based on a neighbor’s report of an argument between Sadie and the murdered woman, the police zero in on Sadie as a person-of-interest and she didn’t even know the woman that was killed? As the island police investigate the murder, Sadie begins to question everything and everyone around her. Why has Imogen said things to Sadie that she then denies to Will? Why does Imogen keep her room padlocked? Why has Otto become so hostile and aloof? And why do people keep saying they’ve seen Sadie doing or saying things that she’d never do or say in places she’s never been? Is someone trying to frame her for murder? If so, what’s the motive? Can Sadie uncover the truth before she becomes the next victim?

I’ve had the pleasure of reading all of the previous books by Mary Kubica so I knew I had to read The Other Mrs. when offered the chance and am I so glad I accepted that offer! The Other Mrs. was a dark and twisted read and I mean that in the best possible way. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, the author threw a nice twist into play and I was left guessing again. This story is told in alternating perspectives of three characters, Sadie Fount, who we know is married to Will, a practicing physician, and mother of two boys. The other two voices we know very little about other than what they reveal. Camille is apparently someone that Will met before Sadie and someone he’s continued to have an affair with throughout his marriage to Sadie. Camille is the jealous stalker type and comes across as one scary lady. The third voice is that of Mouse a 6-year-old girl. All we know about Mouse is that she lives with her father until he brings home a new wife. Mouse’s stepmother is physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive but commits all of the abuse when the father is traveling for work. There is a lot to parse and unpack with The Other Mrs. and I can’t tell you too much because then you’ll know what’s happening, who did it, and why. What I will say is that this is an amazing read that deals with a host of issues including suicide, murder, bullying, gaslighting, and mental health issues. I can also tell you to expect the unexpected and prepare for one heck of a read with The Other Mrs. For those of you that love psychological suspense/psychological thrillers, The Other Mrs. may just be the perfect book for you. For those of you that have read other books by Mary Kubica in the past, I probably don’t have to tell you to grab a copy of this book because it’s probably already on your TBR list, but just in case you haven’t already decided to read this one, put it on your list. Actually, put it on the top of your TBR list because you’ll want to read this one as soon as possible. I enjoyed reading The Other Mrs. and look forward to rereading again in the future just to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time around.

Happy Reading y’all! 



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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.”

2020 Book 28: THE LOOK-ALIKE by Erica Spindler

The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler 
ISBN: 9781250083678 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250083685 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250259783 (audiobook – digital)
ASIN: B07T93QNDX  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07SBQDLS4  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 28, 2020 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press



From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?



Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?





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Sienna Scott has spent her entire life dealing with her mother’s mental illness. She doesn’t blame her mother Vivienne for her illness, but she does blame her for not taking her medication on a regular basis or continuing with therapy. After Sienna came upon a murdered body on her college campus ten years ago, her mother’s paranoia became untenable. The solution was to send Sienna overseas to London where her maternal grandmother lived. Sienna lived in Europe peacefully for ten years eventually becoming a Cordon Bleu trained chef. Sienna has faced many fears over the past decade but her final fear is that of returning home and dealing with her mother. She expected to be welcomed home by her half-brother and touchstone, Bradley. He’s happy to see her but not pleased at her permanent return, which raises some questions in Sienna’s mind. Sienna’s mother, Vivienne, is sure that “they” are still out to get Sienna and becomes even more unhinged than she was after the murder a decade earlier. Two good things come out Sienna’s return, her renewed friendship with Randy Clark, a former campus police officer and now town detective, and a burgeoning friendship and romance with her neighbor, Jonathan Hart. However, it quickly becomes apparent that perhaps Vivienne’s paranoia may not be unfounded or is it? Will Sienna be able to discern the truth of what happened 10 years ago before something else or someone else dies?

I usually spend my weekdays visiting with my 85-y.o. mother. It’s up for question as to whether I’m keeping an eye on her or she’s keeping an eye on me, but the one thing we both have gotten used to is spending our afternoons reading. The Look-Alike pulled me in to the point where I didn’t hear the phone ringing or my mother talking to me until after she had called my name several times. (Yes, the story was that engrossing, I didn’t want to set it aside.) I enjoy reading suspense and this well-crafted psychological suspense kept me on tenterhooks. I enjoyed the unexpected twists-and-turns the story took and Ms. Spindler kept me guessing until the bitter end. The characters are realistic and they all seemed to be hiding parts of themselves from each other, and yes that keeps the reader guessing about what’s coming next as well as the action. Although there is violence in the story, hey it starts with a murder, the violence becomes almost secondary to everything else that takes place, such as the theme of dealing with mental illness, the possible hereditary nature of mental illness and the dangling threat of inheriting a mental illness, the destruction wrought by dealing with having a murdered family member, sibling rivalry, friendship, romance, and more. Ms. Spindler packs a lot into this story and although there are only a handful of primary characters, it is a story that seems all-too realistic especially if you’ve had to deal with the fall-out caused by having someone with a chronic mental illness in your family. I’m always eager to read a new story by Ms. Spindler and I feel incredibly fortunate that I was given the opportunity to read a review copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you that enjoy mystery or suspense reads, make sure you grab a copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you looking for an intriguing suspense read with romance elements, get a copy of The Look-Alike to read. And finally, for those of you looking for something a little bit different to read, grab a copy of The Look-Alike, you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed reading The Look-Alike and will be purchasing a print copy of this book to add to my home library. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even lend it to my 85-y.o. mother to read during one of our afternoon reading sessions.

Happy Reading!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy 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.”

2019 Book 134: THE SECRETS WE BURY by Debra Webb

The Secrets We Bury (The Undertaker’s Daughter #1) by Debra Webb
ISBN: 9780778308300 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488085796 (ebook)
ASIN: B07FD8WBP7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: April 30, 2019


Nothing stays buried forever…

Doctor Rowan Dupont knows death. She grew up surrounded by it in her family’s Victorian funeral home, and it’s haunted her since the day her twin sister drowned years ago. Between her mother’s subsequent suicide and the recent murder of her father, coming home to run the funeral home feels fitting—even if it leaves her vulnerable to an obsessive serial killer.

Rowan refuses to let fear keep her from honoring her family. But the more time she spends back in Winchester, Tennessee, the more she finds herself questioning what really happened that fateful summer. Had her sister’s death truly been an accident? And what pushed their mother to take her own life? The dark lake surrounding Rowan’s hometown holds as many secrets as the bodies that float in its chilling depths. But Rowan is running out of time if she’s going to uncover the truth before somebody sinks her for good.





Dr. Rowan DuPont is a forensic psychiatrist. She was once well respected by law enforcement and thought her career was beneficial. After her father was murdered by her longtime mentor she is questioning all that she’s ever known. She leaves Nashville behind and returns to her hometown of Winchester, Tennesse and takes over the family mortuary business. Rowan’s life has been filled with heartbreak, beginning with the drowning death of her twin sister when she was twelve. This was followed only a few months later by her mother’s suicide. Rowan even attempted suicide a couple of times during her youth, but the only ones that know that secret are her father, her mentor and former psychiatrist, Dr. Julian Addington, and her childhood friend, Billy Brannigan, who’s now chief of police in Winchester. During one of Rowan’s waterfront walks near the place of her sister’s drowning, she discovers bones of a teenaged girl. The bones are eventually linked to a missing teenager from California, Dr. Julian Addington, and Rowan’s deceased twin sister Raven. Adding to the drama of Rowan’s return is her discovery that one of the bodies in the mortuary may not have died of a fall as initially expected. This sleepy small town is now dealing with murder after murder and all are linked to Dr. Julian Addington and his quest to torment Rowan. Can Rowan and Billy uncover all the secrets her family tried to keep hidden all those years ago before it’s too late?

The Secrets We Bury by Debra Webb is the first installment in the Undertaker’s Daughter series and it starts off with a bang, figuratively speaking. Rowan is dealing with the psychological torment of someone that knows all of her secrets and even worse, he knows many of the secrets kept by her parents that she was completely unaware of until now. Rowan feels as if she’s unraveling as she tries to figure out what happened in the past along with what’s currently happening. Yes, there’s a lot going on in this story and there’s no way I can tell you everything without massive spoilers. If you’re into suspense thrillers or psychological suspense reads, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Secrets We Bury. If you’ve read anything by Debra Webb in the past, then you’re familiar with her writings and you’ve probably already got this book on your TBR list and a copy on pre-order. If you haven’t read anything by this author in the past, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Secrets We Bury and then you can enjoy reading her backlist while you wait for the next installment in this series. I enjoyed The Secrets We Bury and can’t wait to read the next book to see what happens next with Rowan and Billy.



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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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2019 Book 122: THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
ISBN: 9780062853370 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062853356 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062895264 (audiobook)
ASIN: B078R4J4SY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 16, 2019 
Publisher: Harper Books


From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.



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Chloe Taylor might have been the younger Taylor sister, but she’s also the one that seemed to have more drive and ambition. She’s also the sister that went to college, moved away from home, and became a successful journalist. Her older sister, Nicky, always seemed to struggle with relationships and following through with pretty much everything including jobs. It wasn’t until Nicky began her relationship with Adam Macintosh that she began to settle down. She married and quickly had a child. Then her life began to unravel and Adam turned to Chloe for assistance. Although Chloe lived several hundred miles away, she wanted to be there for her sister and her brother-in-law, but when tragedy struck everyone felt that Ethan’s best interest had to come first. Adam wound up divorcing Nicky, obtaining sole custody, and staying in Ohio for several years afterward before relocating to New York. It wasn’t until Adam and Ethan moved to New York that Chloe became a central part of their lives and before you knew it, Chloe was married to her ex-brother-in-law and stepmother to her biological nephew. 

Fast forward a dozen years and Chloe is now a successful journalist and publisher with a book deal. She is well-respected in her industry and is considered to be an integral media spokesperson for the #MeToo and #ThemToo movements. Her marriage to Adam seems idyllic. She has a husband she loves, a child she adores, and a job that is incredibly rewarding. Shortly after receiving an industry award, Chloe, Adam, and Ethan plan to spend a weekend away from New York City and go to their second home in East Hampton. Ethan spends the night with a friend. Chloe spends the evening at a party to celebrate her award and Adam opts to spend a quiet night at home. Sadly, that quiet night at home ends with Chloe finding Adam’s murdered body. The police investigate and quickly turn their sights to Chloe and then to Ethan. It seems the idyllic family that Chloe liked to portray in public wasn’t so idyllic. Chloe may not know much, but she knows she didn’t kill her husband and she also knows that Ethan didn’t murder his father, but who did? Since Chloe is only Ethan’s stepmother and aunt, she has no legal rights and Nicky returns to the picture. Amazingly, she provides support to both Ethan and Chloe while they wait for the trial to begin and during the trial. Can these two sisters repair their relationship while fighting for the life and freedom of their shared son? Will they ever uncover the real identity of Adam’s murderer?

I found The Better Sister to be a riveting psychological suspense thriller. In addition to the murder, there is adultery, emotional and physical abuse, gaslighting, illegal corporate shenanigans, and tons of family angst and drama. Yes, there are several twists and turns in the story and the author keeps you guessing as to whodunit until the final reveal. Are there bad guys? Yes and no. (Trust me, that answer makes a lot of sense once you read the book.) None of the primary characters are what they appear to be initially. Chloe is not as laid back and easy going as she would have everyone believe. Her marriage to Adam is nowhere near perfect. Adam wasn’t happy in his job and had severe anger and control issues (still not an excuse to be murdered). Ethan is caught not just between two parents, but between three and is struggling to hang tough and please them all as best he can and ends up arrested and on trial accused of murdering his own father because of his desire to please everyone. Nicky isn’t quite the trainwreck she was thought to be. The Better Sister seems to go out of its way in letting the reader know there are often more than two sides to a story and just because one side seems more plausible than another doesn’t make it the right side. Truth is often stranger than fiction and Chloe, Nicky, and Ethan seem to have a lot of difficulty in dealing with the truth until their backs are pushed against the proverbial wall. Although there is a lot going on in this story, the three main characters are inextricably linked together and it’s only when they realize that together they are stronger that they rise above their problems and begin to survive. Does Ethan get out of jail? Do they ever find the real murderer? What exactly are the corporate shenanigans? Who was committing adultery? Who was the abuser and who was getting abused? Who was gaslighting whom? Which sister is The Better Sister? Read the book to find out for yourself!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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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2019 Book 102: BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778308621 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778307730 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488095429 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488205996 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07CS5X1R7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books 
Publication Date: April 16, 2019


A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession, and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.





Violet Crow and her family never intended to live in Pitch, Iowa, but their car broke down on their way to a larger town. Now, she, along with her mother and older brother, is simply trying to make the best of a bad situation in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Violet is the new girl in town and at the school and all she wants to do is fit in and get along. Jordyn Pettit wasn’t born in Pitch, but her father and grandparents were. She’s now living with her paternal grandparents and has been for the past eight years. Jordyn may not have been born in Pitch, but she is definitely the queen bee of the sixth grade. No one wants to get on her bad side because they all know that there will be repercussions, perhaps not today, or tomorrow but at some point in time. Cora Landry was born in Pitch. She was born premature, is small for her size, quiet, often nervous and anxious, and definitely doesn’t fit in. She’s the child that takes everything to heart and her feelings can be bruised quite easily. 

Cora is initially quite pleased to welcome Violet and the two quickly become friends. Violet even begins to spend afternoons and nights at the Landry home. Things are great for Cora in middle school, but they definitely take a turn for the worse when she begins to work on an “urban legend” assignment along with Violet and Jordyn for school. The assignment ends with Cora unwittingly antagonizing a friend of Jordyn’s in class followed by an argument with Jordyn and a slap in Jordyn’s face. If Cora was ostracized before that incident, her life afterward became a virtual hell. Then, several months after the classroom incident, Cora, Violet, and Jordyn seem to be getting along quite well. Plans are made for a sleepover at Cora’s house and the night ends with Cora suffering from a severe beating and stabbing, Violet being in shock, and Jordyn being evasive and defensive about what happened. Were the girls out for a random walk or were they attempting to prove/disprove a local urban legend? Was there someone else at the train depot that night or had one of the uninjured girls finally gotten the long-awaited revenge?

Before She Was Found is an unsettling read, primarily because of the subject matter, a child found beaten and stabbed and the possibility it might have happened at the hands of another child. It is also a fast-paced read with plenty of twists and turns. One minute you’ll think the culprit is suspect A and the next you’re sure it’s suspect B before deciding there’s a possibility it could be suspect C or even D. (No, I’m not going to reveal just who the suspects are…read the book!) It’s hard to imagine young twelve-year-old girls with deep, dark secrets, but the more you read, the more you realize these aren’t your typical twelve-year-old girls (or at least you’re praying that these aren’t your typical twelve-year-old girls). Throughout most of the story, it’s quite easy to sympathize with both Cora and Violet’s situation. Jordyn begins the story as a mean girl and it’s just hard to feel for her despite the circumstances. But all is not what it appears in this story and don’t be so quick to judge. (Again, I’m not going to reveal who-did-it or why, read the book!) I enjoyed the way Ms. Gudenkauf wove the history between these girls into the present situation so you’re gradually learning more and more about each girl and what brought them all to now. It isn’t until the last few pages that the author throws the reader a curve and makes you ask “why didn’t I see that coming?” I enjoyed the characters, the small town setting, and the action. There were characters I liked and characters I didn’t like and felt quite unsympathetic towards throughout. This story is about more than an urban legend or even one injured girl, it provides elements of tween angst and drama, friendship, bullying, family drama, and the lengths family will go to while trying to protect a loved one. Before She Was Found is a taut psychological suspense read that kept this reader on the proverbial edge of my seat wondering just what would happen next and why. If you enjoy reading books based on reality (think Slenderman) or suspense reads, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Before She Was Found to read. I enjoyed reading Before She Was Found and look forward to reading more from Ms. Gudenkauf in the future.


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the author/publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. 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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2019 Book 68: BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780062838155 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062838179 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062838186 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07BK1HP2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019


Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder. . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .






Henrietta “Hen” Mazur is an artist. She’s also bipolar and has a history of obsessions going back to college. In college, she just “knew” her dorm mate had attempted to kill her roommate by giving her the flu. She then “knew” the dorm mate was out to kill her simply because she knew the truth. That whole situation ended with Hen being hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, a restraining order being placed against her, her withdrawal from that college and transferring to a different college. After her marriage to Lloyd and whilst living in Cambridge, MA, Hen became obsessed with the death of an area resident. Now that they have moved to a suburb outside of Boston, Hen is convinced her next door neighbor is the murderer. She attempts to convince the Cambridge detectives of what she knows, but that doesn’t go very well. She then decides to keep an eye on her neighbor, witnesses him stalking then murdering a local man, and subsequently identifies her neighbor as the killer to the police. Hen is suspicious of Matthew, who in turn is suspicious of her suspicions. Will anyone ever take her reports seriously given her past behaviors or will her neighbor literally be able to get away with murder?

I’ve read several books by Peter Swanson in the past and found them all to be well-written, twisted, and filled with surprises throughout and Before She Knew Him is an excellent example of his work. There are a lot of nuances to this book including the fact that a person with a known mental health problem isn’t often taken seriously by law enforcement despite the fact that they may be able to provide crucial evidence. Hen’s situation is an excellent example of this predicament and seems to exemplify the old adage that just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone after them. Hen knows what she knows and no one believes her or so she thinks initially. She quickly comes to realize that Matthew definitely knows what is going on and is willing to use her past against her. When Matthew and Mira get a restraining order against Hen, it seems as if the story might have nowhere to go but then several twists and surprises arise. No, I’m not going to reveal what they are…read the book! Mr. Swanson fills Before She Knew Him with psychological suspense and enough plot twists and turns to give the reader motion sickness (trust me, this is a good thing). It was impossible to determine what was going to happen next and I love that in a story. I empathized with Hen and even Mira and felt Matthew deserved whatever might happen to him. I wish I could say more about Lloyd, Hen’s husband, but let’s just say that even he isn’t as nice a guy as he initially appears. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Before She Knew Him to all of you lovers of the mystery-suspense genre as well as those of you looking for something a little different to read. Come on, read outside of your comfort zone this year by grabbing a copy of Before She Knew Him to read. You may be surprised by just how much you like it. 



Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. 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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