2017 Book 112: GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen
ISBN: 9780399585012 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780399585029 (ebook)
ASIN: B01KGZVR4G (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Berkley Books 
Publication Date: April 18, 2017

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.

As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…

Hannah Monroe has everything she ever wanted. She enjoys her work and her career is on the rise. She’s paying down her mortgage on her own home. And she’s in a great relationship with a wonderful man. Hannah’s life is turned upside down when she returns home from a conference to find that the man of her dreams has disappeared. Not only has he left her, but he has removed all trace of himself from her home and their life together. Matt’s disappearance is the beginning of Hannah’s downward spiral into possible madness. She calls Matt’s employer only to find he left months ago. She calls every hotel for miles to find him. She tracks down his coworkers to see if they can reveal any clues to where he is. She even tries to find Matt’s mother, a woman she despises, to get answers only to find she’s disappeared as well. Just when Hannah feels she’s starting to come to grips with Matt’s disappearance, she begins to receive strange text messages and phone calls and it seems as if someone is coming into her home when she’s away. Has Matt returned? If these texts, calls, and visits aren’t from Matt, who are they from and why? Why did Matt leave the way he did? Hannah is desperate to find answers to these questions and more, but will she be willing to accept the truth if she ever finds it?

I found Gone Without A Trace to be a fast-paced and engaging read. Ms. Torjussen has crafted a story with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the bitter end. Initially, I felt sorry for Hannah, but the more I read the more I realized that all is not as it appears (no, I won’t tell you any more…read the book!). Ms. Torjussen introduces us to only a handful of characters and they all come across as deeply flawed in some way. Hannah’s past is slowly revealed as the story develops and the reader gradually comes to understand that her childhood was far from idyllic. Her father was and continues to be abusive and very manipulative, with her mother often being the victim of that abuse. Hannah’s best friend seems to epitomize passive-aggressive behavior and isn’t very likable. I found Gone Without A Trace to be a chilling psychological thriller and suspenseful read. There’s a lot going on in this story and if I revealed it all you wouldn’t need to read it, but here’s a partial list: childhood abuse, spousal abuse, anger management issues, and murder. If you enjoy reading stories with unreliable narrators or a good thrill, then you’ll definitely want to add Gone Without A Trace to your TBR list. I look forward to reading more by Ms. Torjussen in the future. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley 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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Gone Without a Trace

Gone Without a Trace

Gone Without a Trace



2017 Book 91: A SIMPLE FAVOR by Darcey Bell

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell
ISBN: 9780062497772 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062666338 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062497796 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062658234 (audiobook)
ASIN: B01ER6LIZI (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harper 
Publication Date: March 21, 2017

She’s your best friend.

She knows all your secrets.

That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. 

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems. 

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Stephanie is a stay-at-home, mommy blogger, and widow. She’s become good friends with Emily Nelson, a public relations executive for a fashion house. Stephanie and Emily’s sons, Miles and Nicky, are best friends and attend the local school. Stephanie and Emily spend hours together with their sons and because Stephanie is usually at home, Emily doesn’t think twice about asking her to pick up her son from school if she’s running late. But Emily is more than running late, she’s disappeared. Stephanie was sure that Emily would pick-up Nicky later that evening, but it’s been days and she’s not responding to calls. Frantic, Stephanie reaches out to Emily’s job and even her husband to find out more information. When Emily’s husband, Sean, returns from an overseas trip and Emily hasn’t returned, even he begins to get a little concerned. As Stephanie and Sean sit and wonder what has happened to Emily, they work together to care for their sons. Weeks go by and then a body is found and it’s Emily. After grieving the death of her friend, Stephanie and Sean seem to get closer and their two separate families become one melded family. Is this a second chance to grab happiness for Stephanie and Sean or is it something much worse? 

A Simple Favor begins with the premise that stay-at-home-mom Stephanie will take care of her friend’s son for a few hours. Those few hours turn into days, weeks, and then months while the friend is missing and then declared dead. The story is initially told by Stephanie via her blog posts about her missing friend along with her recollections of her relationship with Emily, as well as her past family life. Just when the reader thinks are back to normal, things begin to go awry (great word don’t you think and no I won’t tell you what goes awry…read the book!). Stephanie reveals parts of herself in her recollections that present a darker side than we could ever possibly imagine. Just when we are getting acclimated to Stephanie’s darker side, we get to hear things from Emily’s perspective (trust me, there’s dark and there’s DARK). The simple favor that Stephanie provides is far from simple and changes the lives of more than one of the primary characters. One of the themes in A Simple Favor is that everyone has secrets and a dark side, and that holds true for Stephanie, Emily, and Sean. All three are not what they appear to be and the secrets they have aren’t ones they’d want revealed to anyone. These characters might appear as the nice, naive stay-at-home mom, the highly successful working mom, and the workaholic dad, but they are so much more than that. I don’t know what it says about me as a reader, but I enjoy dark, twisted stories and A Simple Favor is one that held me in its grips from beginning to end. Just when you think you know where the story is going, Ms. Bell provides a nice little twist to shake things up (and there are quite a few twists in this story). A Simple Favor is anything but predictable and none of the major characters are very likable once you get to know them. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers or stories with twisted characters and storylines, then you’ll definitely want to read A Simple Favor. If you enjoy reading good writing and want something a little bit different to read, again A Simple Favor might be just the story for you. This is the first book by Ms. Bell and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Simple Favor

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Disclaimer: I received a free digital review 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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Hardcover A Simple Favor
Paperback A Simple Favour

A Simple Favor



A Simple Favor


2017 Book 33: THIS IS NOT OVER by Holly Brown

This Is Not Over by Holly Brown 
ISBN: 9780062456830 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062456847 (ebook)
ASIN: B01A5CEKB2 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 17, 2017 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks 

You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets…

When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.

Beware of your “host”

I wouldn’t have left a review at all, if I didn’t feel it was my civic duty to warn others…

57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.

Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.

This is not over.

This is so not over.

It all starts with an email message about a refund and goes downhill from there. Dawn and Rob Thiebold enjoy spending weekends away from their Oakland apartment and routinely use VRBO homes. Dawn is in charge of finding the homes they stay in and she takes her research into these homes quite seriously. The beach rental should have made for a perfect weekend getaway, but it is anything but perfect and then she receives an email stating they left a mysterious “stain” on the sheets and wouldn’t be receiving a full refund. Dawn tries hard to channel Rob’s more laidback attitude and let this go, but she refuses to accept Miranda’s version of accounts and fights back the only way she can. Dawn’s text message and email responses to Miranda quickly turns into an internet campaign to right a wrong. If dealing with Miranda isn’t enough, Rob wants to start a family, and Dawn’s father dies and she finds out her parents were never legally married. Everything seems to be crashing down around her and she finds refuge with an unlikely ally.

Miranda isn’t sure how a simple text message could have evolved into a campaign to besmirch her character as a VRBO host. She tries her best to remain civil with Dawn and work out a reasonable arrangement. She even offers to refund Dawn if she’ll only take down the somewhat negative review posted on the VRBO host website. Miranda is also dealing with an aging parent suffering from dementia, a distant husband that never seems to agree with her opinion about anything, and a drug-addicted son that seeks to keep her off balance while constantly seeking financial assistance. The only thing Miranda can focus on is maintaining a little bit of sanity in her increasingly insane existence, her status as a good VRBO host. When that is taken away from by Dawn’s reporting the short-stay vacation rentals to the authorities, Miranda decides to take a stand. She stands up to her mother and is kicked out her mother’s assisted living facility. She stands up to her husband and he takes off for a medical conference. But what can she do to stand up to a renter that lives hours away?

I found This Is Not Over to be a rather fast-paced read. It is a psychological thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. It is easy to see how a seemingly innocent text message or email could be taken out of context when it isn’t possible to hear the sender’s voice or see their nonverbal cues. The reader sees and hears what they want to see and hear. Dawn sees one thing and mounts what might be seen as cyberstalking and cyberbullying behavior. Miranda is all too focused on her reputation to see that she’s living a lie. She wants to be perceived as the perfect host when her marriage and family life are crumbling down around her. Both Dawn and Miranda make assumptions about one another and their actions are based on those preconceived notions. This Is Not Over is not a she said/she said story, it is about misconceptions and an unwillingness to see the other side of the equation. This story contains lots of family angst and drama, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, hopelessness, despair, and an inability to see circumstances clearly while enraged. I could tell you where the psychological thriller component comes into play, but then you wouldn’t need to read the story. The story was slow moving at first, but then it picked up and kept my attention to the very last page (I had to know what happened next). If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers filled with family drama, then you’ll definitely want to read This Is Not Over.

Disclaimer:  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.”

About Holly Brown

Photo by Yanina Gotsulsky

Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is the author of the novel Don’t Try to Find Me, and her blog, “Bonding Time,” is featured on the mental health website PsychCentral.com.

Connect with Holly on Facebook.

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This Is Not Over: A Novel

This Is Not Over: A Novel




This Is Not Over: A Novel

This Is Not Over

2016 Book 46: THE QUALITY OF SILENCE by Rosamund Lupton

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton 
ISBN: 9781101903674 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101903681 (ebook)
ASIN: B00XST7IEG (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: Crown Publishing 

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours, they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze 

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Traveling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.  

Imagine you’ve married your college sweetheart. You have a beautiful daughter and she is incredibly smart. You’re an astrophysicist and your husband is a wildlife biologist and film-maker. Now imagine your husband has left the United Kingdom to film in northern Alaska. You and your daughter have traveled thousands of miles to spend the winter holidays in Alaska with him. You arrive only to be told that your husband is dead in a freak accident. This is the foundation for The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton.

Yasmin had a troubled childhood, but channeled her frustrations into her school work and has become an astrophysicist. She dated Matt in college, and even though she never truly believed he loved or saw her for who she truly is, she married him. Their daughter, Ruby, is deaf and an extremely intelligent child that is mainstreamed into the regular school system at Yasmin’s insistence. Yasmin doesn’t want her daughter to ever feel like an outsider without a voice and strongly encourages Ruby to use her verbal skills. Ruby is quite insistent that by using sign language she is actually using her voice, just not the voice her mother wants her to use. Matt wants Ruby to be happy and fully supports her use of sign language. Yasmin, Matt, and Ruby are quite the happy family until Matt goes off to Alaska and appears to fall for a woman there. Yasmin is incensed and hurt. She also knows that she has to confront Matt face-to-face, not on a phone or via Skype. After arriving in Alaska, Yasmin is told that Matt is dead. Neither Yasmin nor Ruby is willing to accept this proclamation. Yasmin only recourse is to head north and find Matt. She tries to find transportation to take them to northern Alaska and ultimately persuades an independent trucker to give them a ride north. When the trucker suffers a stroke, Yasmin commandeers his truck to continue their trek. She has to fight the elements, namely a massive storm coming in and below freezing temperatures, as well as driving in unfamiliar territory and a massive vehicle for the first time. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that someone is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Yasmin and Ruby don’t make it to their destination. Can Yasmin and Ruby beat the clock, the weather, and their nemesis to make it north? Will they ever find out what has happened to Matt?

I found The Quality of Silence to be a fast-paced, engrossing, and enjoyable read. There were parts of the story that strained credulity, such as Yasmin being able to drive a tractor trailer with a massive load in unfamiliar territory during the middle of a snowstorm in frigid temperatures. But once I let that go (people can do amazing things in trying situations), I was able to fully enjoy the story. There are good guys, not-so-good guys, and really bad guys in this story. Unfortunately, the bad guys seem to be wearing gray hats most of the time so it is unclear who’s bad and who’s not (one of the many things that I liked about the story). Ruby is probably my favorite character. She’s quite comfortable with her deafness and proud that she’s different. One of her differences is her synesthesia or ability to see and taste words. Ruby provides us with brief definitions of words based on what words see and taste like to her and these are interspersed throughout the story. Ms. Lupton provides some wonderful assistive devices for Ruby and these come in quite handy over the course of the story (read it and you’ll understand). The Quality of Silence is a taut psychological thriller that provides as many twists and turns as the road leading Yasmin and Ruby to northern Alaska. The wintry environs of Alaska provide a beautiful if somewhat hostile background for the story and is just as important as the primary characters. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers or are seeking something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Quality of Silence.

Read an excerpt from The Quality of Silence here.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via 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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 The Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence

Book 305: THE GIRL IN 6E Review

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre
ISBN: 9780316404389 (hardcover) 
ISBN: 9780316404426 (ebook)
ASIN: B00HQ2N0M0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Redhook/Orbit

I haven’t touched a human in three years. That seems like it would be a difficult task, but it’s not. Not anymore, thanks to the internet.

I am, quite possibly, the most popular recluse ever. Not many shut-ins have a 200-member fan club, a bank account in the seven-figure range, and hundreds of men lining up to pay for undivided attention.

They get satisfaction, I get a distraction. Their secret desires are nothing compared to why I hide… my lust for blood, my love of death.

Taking their money is easy. Keeping all these secrets… one is bound to escape.

What if you hid yourself away because all you could think of was killing? And what if one girl’s life depending on you venturing into society?

Enter a world of lies, thrills, fears, and all desires, in this original thriller from A. R. Torre.

Jessica Reilly is a popular young lady. She’s vivacious, outgoing, and openly erotic. The only problem is that Jessica Reilly doesn’t really exist. Jessica Reilly is the working name for Deanna Madden. Deanna uses the Jessica Reilly identity to work as an internet sex worker (and she makes darn good money at it too). No, she isn’t a prostitute, but she does perform sensual and sexual acts on demand on various cam websites. Jessica is a college student with an active social life, while Deanna lives the life of hermit, never going outside her apartment and having contact with the outside world via phone, internet, or through her apartment door. Is there anything that can compel Deanna to rejoin the outside world? Will the outside world be safe from her homicidal dreams and desires?

The Girl in 6E is a dark, somewhat erotic, psychological thriller. The author doesn’t shy away from describing, in very graphic details, the exploits of Deanna as an internet sex worker. It seems that the only way Deanna can continue with her voyeuristic sex job is by creating a persona that is the exact opposite of who she is as a person. Deanna might be considered troubled by some and tragic by others. Her mother slaughtered her father and twin brother and sisters before, presumably, committing suicide. Now Deanna dreams of murder and feels the only way she can protect the public-at-large from her homicidal ideations is to retreat from the world. Unfortunately, the UPS delivery man, Jeremy, is curious about her and wants to learn more. Deanna has virtual acquaintances that she relies upon such as her two psychologists – one deals with her concerns with her client base and the other with her homicidal desires, a client that has become her tech guru, another client that provides her with pills for her addicted neighbor, and Jeremy the UPS man. All of these acquaintances serve a purpose as long as they stay in the rigid guidelines Deanna has crafted for her world to continue. She even goes so far as having her neighbor lock her in each night so she won’t wander out and possibly attack and/or kill someone. It isn’t until one of her online clients begins to want a twisted role-play that Deanna begins to wonder if there’s more to him that meets the eye. When she learns her suspicions are valid, she has to decide if she can do anything to control the situation.

I’ve got to admit that my inner prude cringed a few times when I began to read The Girl in 6E. Even with my prudish responses, I simply couldn’t put this book down. I found The Girl in 6E to be a fast-paced read from beginning to end. It was fascinating to discover the behind-the-scenes world of the internet sex web-cam world. It was also interesting to learn more about the inner thoughts of the character Deanna/Jessica and read about her interactions (limited though they were) with others. The Girl in 6E deals with some hard and harsh topics, such as sexual fetishism, mental illness, homicide, pedophilia, and social isolation. I wouldn’t describe this as a light read but it was definitely one I’m glad I read. If you enjoy reading about the dark side of human nature or psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to read The Girl in 6E

Read some excerpts here.

Watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via 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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Book 273: THE GOOD GIRL Review

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
ISBN: 9780778316558 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488710452 (ebook)
ASIN: B00IB5BSBG (Kindle edition)

Publication date: July 29, 2014

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.” 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. 

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter. 

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems. . .

If you were to meet Mia Dennett in person you wouldn’t think she came from wealth, but she does. For most of her life Mia has rebelled against her parents and their version of acceptable society. She was the proverbial wild-child and went against her father’s wishes and studied art in college rather than law. As a young twenty-something teacher, Mia has made a life for herself outside the society group she rebelled against. She has limited contact with her parents and is admired by her students and fellow teachers. When Mia doesn’t show up at school for a few days it is her school teacher friend that launches a missing person report, not her parents. Police detective Gabe Hoffman has to literally fight with the Dennett family to prove to them that she did not run away from her responsibilities but may, in fact, have been abducted. The question becomes can Mia be found before it’s too late? Who wanted Mia taken out of the picture and why?

Mary Kubica does an admirable job answering those questions and presenting a view of Mia before, during, and after her abduction. The Mia from before was rather free-spirited but always made sure her students had what they needed. Mia isn’t an irresponsible adult, just a nonconformist. During the abduction she alternates between being subdued, frightened, and angry. Mia after the abduction comes across as fragile and epitomizes the “good girl” daughter her parents always wanted. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I read comparisons between The Good Girl and Gone Girl (usually these comparisons set the reader up for disappointment – this time it didn’t). Yes both stories are thrillers. Yes both stories explore the darker side of humanity. And yes, both stories have an unexpected twist at the end, but those similarities are superficial at best. The Good Girl is simply a darn good read, as was Gone Girl. The characters are multidimensional, realistically flawed, and wholly believable. There are good guys, not so good guys, and bad guys and sometimes it may be difficult to tell who’s a good guy and who’s bad. (Trust me you’ll understand and be able to figure it out while you’re reading the story.) I liked the unexpected twist at the end and never could have predicted it (No! I’m not telling you what the twist is in the story . . . read it!). If you enjoy mystery-suspense thrillers or just want to read a good book then I you’ll definitely want to add The Good Girl to your reading list.

Watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via 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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2012 Book 244: INVISIBLE Review

Invisible by Carla Buckley
ISBN: 9780440246053 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780345532169 (ebook)
ASIN: B008C82P8M (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Bantam

Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable—Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years.

When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it.

Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery—what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can’t forgive her aunt’s years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own—one that could tear apart Dana’s life, her family, and the whole town.

Dana Carlsen has made a series of unfortunate decisions in her life. Most of these weren’t very well thought out and have resulted in somewhat dire circumstances. The first bad decision she made was a teenager when she ran away from her sister and niece, her only surviving family members, when she was seventeen. A series of rather dead-end jobs and a lack of training resulted in her accepting a business partnership with a somewhat unscrupulous man. Her business is under investigation and there aren’t any funds in any account because her partner keeps using business money to bail out his family members overseas. Just when it doesn’t seem like things could get any worse she receives a phone call that has her leaving her business and the investigation to return to her sister, Julie, and their hometown. Unfortunately her return is too late for reconciliation with Julie as she has died of acute kidney failure.

Dana finds that much has changed in her hometown. Her boyfriend is now a high school science teacher. The local bad boy has become the largest employer in the town. Her brother-in-law still can’t stand her and apparently neither can her niece Peyton. It doesn’t help that she hadn’t called or returned in almost seventeen years. The death of her beloved sister Julie is just one in a long line of shocks that Dana must face. She knows that she can’t make up for her absence but she tries to continue her sister’s research into why so many people in such a small town are dealing with kidney failure. But Dana’s research may put her family and hometown at risk. Obviously she couldn’t save Julie, but can she save others including her niece Peyton before it’s too late?

Invisible seems to make reference to many different things, but the first that comes to mind is Dana’s invisibility with her family due to her prolonged absence. She may have had good reasons to disappear but it has taken quite a toll on her loved ones, especially her niece. The second reference may be to the invisible nano particles used in the manufacturing of body lotion. Dana seems to believe that these invisible particles may be the cause of the increased kidney problems in Black Bear but she’s having a hard time convincing anyone else of this possibility. And finally “invisible” may refer to Peyton’s feelings toward her father and her aunt. Peyton wants to be strong for her father, but she’s beginning to feel as if she doesn’t count since he’s resumed his drinking. She also feels that her aunt has ignored her and her mom for all these years so they obviously don’t matter. Invisible seems to be a coming-of-age story for both Dana and Peyton, mixed with family drama, psychological thrills, and a bit of an industrial-environmental mystery. The beginning of Invisible seemed to go a little slow with the constantly changing voices between Peyton and Dana, but I quickly became used to these dual perspectives and finished reading it with few interruptions. If you’re looking for a well-written contemporary fiction read this winter, then I heartily recommend Invisible by Carla Buckley.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes via 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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Lauren Lawton is a woman on the edge. Her eldest daughter has been missing for four years, presumed abducted and dead. Her husband died in an automobile accident two years ago. She clings to life for the sake of her younger daughter Leah and strives to obtain justice for her missing daughter Leslie in Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag.

Life isn’t always fair and the justice system isn’t always just. Lauren knows this better than others because the man she knows is responsible for her daughter’s disappearance has never been arrested or tried for his crime, Roland Ballencoa. To make matters worse he had actually been able to get a restraining order placed against her. All Lauren wants is to know what happened to her daughter and receive justice. If the system won’t give it to her then she may need to get it for herself.

Leah’s life has been hell for the past four years since her older sister Leslie disappeared. Leah isn’t allowed to be home alone or even go anywhere alone. The only thing good to come out of their recent move to a new town is she is allowed to work at a horse farm a few days a week. This work brings a new friend into her life, Wendy. Finally she has someone that understands the trauma her family has experienced and doesn’t consider her a freak because of it. But Leah knows that she isn’t dealing with the situation in a good way, and maybe she is a freak after all.

Detective Mendez feels sympathy for Ms. Lawton. He knows that there may be little the system can actually do against the suspect in her daughter’s case simply because there is no evidence. His sympathy is the impetus needed for him to delve a little deeper into Leslie’s disappearance. The more he digs, the more he understands Lauren’s feelings. Will he be able to find evidence to provide the abduction before things get out of hand?

Down the Darkest Road is a glimpse into the minds of a family torn apart by tragedy. Lauren is so focused on getting vengeance, if not justice, for her missing daughter Leslie that she neglects the needs of her remaining child, Leah. Leah has a lot of hostility against her missing sister and against her deceased father. Unfortunately she doesn’t really have an outlet for these feelings and can’t disclose them to her mother. Ms. Hoag even provides glimpses into the motivation and mind of the prime suspect, Roland Ballencoa. Much of the action centers on a cat-and-mouse like game between Lauren and Ballencoa, and even Ballencoa and law enforcement. This back and forth builds the tension and kept me on edge during most of the book.  Down the Darkest Road was a quick read but it is by no means an easy read due to the psychological tension and underlying darkness associated with child abduction and sexual predators. This may not be a book for everyone but if you want to read a good suspense/psychological thriller, this may well be the book for you.

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag will be available on 12/27/2011.

Disclaimer: I received 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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Book 209: REVERB Review

James had a relatively happy childhood with plenty of loving memories of his mother and step-father. His parents nurtured his musical talents. Music became his escape after his mom and step-father’s death and then became his life. What follows is an odyssey into self-discovery filled with suspense and romance in Reverb by J. Cafesin.

James has never been close to his father or half-brother, even though he lived with them after his mother and step-father’s deaths. He left his father’s home in the UK as soon as he could in order to explore his musical talents and work the way he wanted. He has built a successful career as a composer and musician, but he knows that he’s living life on the edge. He slows down just enough to attend his half-brother’s funeral. However, his father suspects that he is abusing drugs just like his brother and may wind up dead. In an effort to “save” his son, he plants drugs on him and arranges for him to be arrested at the airport and sent to a rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately this was possibly the worst thing he could have done. James is attacked in the rehab facility. He fights back to defend his own life and winds up taking a life. Again an unfortunate turn of events because this was the son of a judge, who in turn sentences James to a mental hospital. James spends two years being tortured and abused before escaping, leaving the UK and returning to the US. He eventually makes it to the Greek island of Corfu where he plans to live a life of solitude and simplicity.

Elizabeth is a young widow with a young son. Her husband was killed in Israel. She knows she could return to the US and the support of her family but she escapes and winds up on Corfu, renting a cottage on property owned by James. Elizabeth and her son Cameron wind up coaxing James from his shell and help him to overcome some of the psychological scars that remain from his incarceration. Elizabeth has her own psychological battles to overcome as she struggles to reconcile her past with her present, focusing on Cameron and James. Can James and Elizabeth build a new life together and will the ghosts from their pasts continue to haunt them? Will James ever truly be free since he is considered an escapee?

Ms. Cafesin provides a fast-paced psychological thriller with a hint of romance in Reverb. James has lead a pretty selfish and insular existence even though he was an acclaimed composer and musician. Elizabeth wasn’t so much selfish as she was a follower, subjugating her desires and needs for those of her deceased husband. Although she is selfless in wanting what is best for her son, she has also come to realize that she needs to focus on herself in order to be a better parent to Cameron. Both Elizabeth and James cause a rebound or reset in one another’s lives, and that is precisely the meaning of the term reverb in its purest sense.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. 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.”