Tag: suspense

Blog Tour and Book Review: Confessions on the 7:45, by Lisa Unger

Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title: Confessions on the 7:45
Author:  Lisa Unger  
Genre:  Suspense
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Lisa Unger is a great writer, and this was very well-written and tightly plotted. But…I didn’t like the characters. Any of them. At all. Which obviously detracted from the read for me. I’d give it four stars based on the writing, but three stars because I disliked the characters so much. These people are horrible. Really.

“Martha” lives her life lying and using people and she doesn’t care who she hurts. Same with the nanny and Pop. Selena’s husband is awful to her. And Selena herself, well, she cares about her kids, but that’s about it. Apart from that, she’s selfish and unfeeling, and that made this a hard, slow read for me.

Lisa Unger is a bestselling author. Confessions on the 7:45 is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Don’t Look for Me, by Wendy Walker

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Don’t Look for Me
Author: Wendy Walker
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.

She doesn’t want to be found.

Or at least, that’s the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

This was not what I was expecting at all, and a little odd and creepy…in a good way, I suppose. Molly has been through the worst thing she can imagine, and her family has fallen apart ever since that fateful day. Some days she wants to walk away, but she’d never actually go through with it…or would she?

There are many layers in this novel, many twists and turns and false trails, but the reader always gets the sense that something else is going on. The author does an excellent job building the suspense and keeping the identity of the person involved hidden—and there’s a bit twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. This is not a small town I’d like to visit.

Wendy Walker is a bestselling author. Don’t Look for Me is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: No Woods So Dark as These, by Randall Silvis

no woods so dark as these
Image belongs to Poisoned Pen Press.

Title: No Woods So Dark as These
Author: Randall Silvis
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5 

Former Sergeant Ryan DeMarco’s life has been spent in defiance–he’s defied death, loneliness, and betrayal all while fighting the worst parts of humanity. He’s earned a break, and following the devastation of their last case, DeMarco and his girlfriend Jayme want nothing more than to live quietly in each other’s company. To forget the horrors they’ve experienced and work on making each other whole again.

But dreams of a peaceful life together are shattered when two bodies are discovered in a smoldering car in the woods, and another is found brutally mutilated nearby. Much as he’d like to leave the case to his former colleagues, dark forces are at play and DeMarco cannot escape the vortex of lies, betrayal, and desperation. He and Jayme are dragged back into the fray, where they must confront the shady dealings of a close-knit rural community.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series, and I enjoyed this one as well, although there was quite a bit more introspection from the characters than in the previous novels—which seems a bit odd for a thriller. Facing mortality after the events of the previous novel, maybe?

Silvis’s writing is sharp and solid as always, but this book seemed to be more about DeMarco’s mental struggles than the actual case. Jayme is also struggling, but Ryan is the focus here, which I enjoyed.

Randall Silvis is an award-winning author. No Woods So Dark as These is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Poisoned Penn Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

someone's listening blog tour

lies lies lies
Image belongs to harlequin/MIRA.

Title: Lies, Lies, Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  2 out of 5 

Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it.

It’s a small wonder I actually finished reading this. The characters—to me—were so unlikable as to be almost intolerable. Simon was awful—completely selfish and self-absorbed throughout almost the entire novel, and hateful to boot. Daisy…I’ve never seen someone so passive. Her internal dialogue is full of anger and impulses, but she sits around and lets horrible people do horrible things to her like she’s incapable of doing anything for herself. With all the mystery surrounding Millie’s parentage, the truth was even more horrifying—and disgusting—than I imagined.

Excellent writing and description just could not save this novel from my dislike of and distaste for these characters.

Adele Parks lives in Surrey. Lies, Lies, Lies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening, by Seraphina Nova Glass

someone's listening blog tour

Someone's Listening cover_smp
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House

Title:   Someone’s Listening
Author:  Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Dr. Faith Finley has everything she’s ever wanted: she’s a renowned psychologist, a radio personality—host of the wildly popular “Someone’s Listening with Dr. Faith Finley”—and a soon-to-be bestselling author. She’s young, beautiful, and married to the perfect man, Liam.

Of course Liam was at Faith’s book launch with her. But after her car crashes on the way home and she’s pulled from the wreckage, nobody can confirm that Liam was with her at the party. The police claim she was alone in car, and they don’t believe her when she says otherwise. Perhaps that’s understandable, given the horrible thing Faith was accused of doing a few weeks ago.

And then the notes start arriving—the ones literally ripped from the pages of Faith’s own self-help book on leaving an abusive relationship. Ones like “Secure your new home. Consider new window and door locks, an alarm system, and steel doors…”

Where is Liam? Is his disappearance connected to the scandal that ruined Faith’s life? Who is sending the notes? Faith’s very life will depend on finding the answers.

This one took me a while to get into. I almost stopped reading about 15% in because I didn’t like Faith very much. It ended up improving, but I still didn’t care for Faith. I felt like she was either just letting life happen to her, or she was making colossally stupid decisions that even she knew were a bad idea at the time. Neither of those things make me like a character, and if I don’t like a character, what’s the point in reading?

I think the mystery was well-done, with a nice red herring thrown in at the end. I didn’t figure out who did it, possibly because I was distracted by all my other guesses. In the end, this was a solid read, but yeah, still didn’t like Faith.

Seraphina Nova Glass is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Playwright-In-Residence at the University of Texas, Arlington where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. Someone’s Listening is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: The Vacation, by T.M. Logan

the vacation
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleThe Vacation
AuthorT.M. Logan
Genre:    Suspense, thriller
Rating:    4 out of 5

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realizes too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

The author did an excellent job of keeping me guessing and of keeping my interest…which is really saying something, considering I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally, that’s reason enough for me to stop reading, but not this time.

I cannot imagine being Kate and finding out one of her three best friends was having an affair with her husband…right before a family vacation with all of them. No wonder the characters drank all the time. This is a solid thriller/suspense novel, and is sure to keep the reader guessing.

T.M. Logan is a bestselling author. The Vacation is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: No One Saw, by Beverly Long

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NoOneSawCover
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   No One Saw
Author:   Beverly Long
Genre:   Suspense
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Ten Days Gone, and this one was right up there with it for suspense, keeping me guessing, and having me racing through it to figure out who had taken Emma. There’s a lot of red herrings and false trails that kept the detectives—and me—guessing.

I love reading series and getting to see how characters grow and change throughout, and although this is only the second book of the series, there has already been change and events to keep up with. The writing here never pulled me out of the story at all—a sure sign this is a winner!

Beverly Long wrote her first book when she was in the fourth grade. No One Saw is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Dark August, by Katie Tallo

dark august
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:   Dark August
Author:   Katie Tallo
Genre: Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Augusta (Gus) Monet is living an aimless existence with her grifter boyfriend when she learns that her great grandmother—her last living relative—has just died. Ditching her boyfriend, Gus returns to the home she left as a young girl. Her inheritance turns out to be a dilapidated house and an old dog named Levi. While combing through her great grandmother’s possessions, Gus stumbles across an old trunk filled with long-lost childhood belongings. But that’s not all the trunk contains. She also discovers cold case files that belonged to her mother, a disgraced police detective who died in a car accident when Gus was eight. Gus remembers her mother obsessing over these very same documents and photographs, especially a Polaroid of a young ballerina.

When Gus spots a front-page news story about the unearthing of a body linked to one of the cold case files from her childhood trunk, she can’t resist following her mother’s clues. As she digs deeper, determined to finish her mother’s investigation, her search leads her to a deserted ghost town, which was left abandoned when the residents fled after a horrific fire. As Gus’ obsession with the case grows, she inadvertently stirs up the evils of the past, putting her life in danger. But Gus is undeterred and is committed to uncovering long-buried secrets, including the secrets surrounding a missing geology student, the young ballerina in the Polaroid, a prominent family’s devastating legacy, and a toxic blast that blew an entire town off the map.

But is Gus ready to learn the truths that culminated on one terrible August night, more than a decade earlier, when lives were taken, and secrets were presumed buried forever…?

I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. For me, Gus was kind of an unlikable character at times. Actually, I didn’t really like any of the characters, and that made the novel hard to read. Excellent writing and the setting was vivid—and creepy. I loved how Gus picked up her mother’s legacy and I enjoyed all the convoluted connections between the past and the present, but the overall feel of the novel unsettled me. Which is maybe the point in a thriller?

Katie Tallo was born in Toronto. Dark August is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girls Weekend, by Jody Gehrman

the girls weekend
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:   The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre:  Suspense/thriller
Rating:   4.0 out of 5

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

I feel like this is the sort of situation I would get myself into: it starts with an invitation I really have no desire to accept—but I do because I get guilt-tripped into it—I’m miserable at the event because I really don’t even like these people, and, just my luck, someone winds up dead. And we’re all suspects. Yep. Just my luck.

I was just as much in the dark as the characters were about what had actually happened. Except…I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have cleaned up the crime scene or not told the cops we thought we’d all been drugged. So that bit was a touch hard to believe. Other than that, I really had no idea who did it, as everyone had a motive for wanting Sadie dead—she was that unlikable.

Jody Gehrman is a professor of English and Communications. The Girls Weekend is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Sister Dear, by Hannah Mary McKinnon

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sister dear
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Sister Dear
AuthorHannah Mary McKinnon
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

This wasn’t a good choice for me to read. Despite the excellent writing, I did not like any of the characters. Eleanor was creepy and obsessive and kind of crazy. Her family was awful. She makes horrible choices and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Self-destructive is her life story, along with feeling sorry for herself. This didn’t end like I expected, which was nice, but it didn’t make up for my dislike of the characters.

Hannah Mary McKinnor was born in the U.K. and now lives in Canada. Sister Dear is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Mira in exchange for an honest review.)