Tag: suspense

Book Review: The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell

the family upstairs
Image belongs to Atria Books.

Title:  The Family Upstairs
AuthorLisa Jewell
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Libby Jones turned 25, she received the letter she’d been waiting on her whole life, the letter telling her who she really was and who her parents were. She wasn’t expecting to find out she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames worth millions of dollars. She wasn’t expecting the story of how she was found, either.

Twenty-five years ago, neighbors called the cops to report a crying baby. The officers found Libby—called Serenity then—a happy, healthy 10-month old, in her crib. In the kitchen they found three dead bodies starting to decay and a hasty note. There was no trace of the other two adults, or the four kids rumored to live there. Nor was there any trace of whoever had been caring for the baby.

Libby has been waiting her whole life find out who she is—but she’s not the only one who’s been waiting. And asking questions about the past just might draw more than answers out of the dark.

This was a creepy tale of family suspense—not to mention dark manipulation and the growth of a cult. Weird family. Weird kids. Weird situation. But I was completely intrigued with the tale and finished it in one sitting.

Lisa Jewell is a New York Times-bestselling author. The Family Upstairs is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lies We Tell, by Debra Webb

the lies we tell
Image belongs to Harlequin/Mira.

Title:  The Lies We Tell
Author:    Debra Webb
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

A serial killer is after her. Dr. Rowan Dupont knows this. And she’s ready for the waiting to be over. But first, she wants answers. She was just a child when her mother took her own life, and now she realizes she didn’t know her mother at all. How well did the killer know her mother? And what secrets was her mother hiding?

When a bizarre double murder leads to even more horrible discoveries, Rowan works with her lifelong friend Billy, now chief of police, to uncover the truth. But Rowan’s childhood home—a Victorian funeral home—has seen more dark secrets than Rowan can imagine. And her desire for answers only leads to more questions.

I have not read the first book in this series, but that didn’t significantly detract from reading this one. I had no problem catching up with the backstory and settling myself into this story. Rowan is struggling with the horrors from her past—and there are a lot of them—as well as waiting for the serial killer she’s known for years to come after her. She knows he’s watching, but she can’t just not seek to find answers to her questions. This a is a solid suspense read, with just a hint of romance.

Debra Webb is an award-winning, bestselling author. The Lies We Tell is her newest novel, the second in The Undertaker’s Daughter series.

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

Book Review: What Happened that Night, by Deanna Cameron

what happened that night
Image belongs to Wattpad Books.

Title:  What Happened that Night
Author:    Deanna Cameron
Genre:  YA
Rating: 
4 out of 5

Clara Porterfield had a crush on Griffin Tomlin as long as she could remember, but he was always just the boy across the street, never anything else. Until that night:  the night that he showed her who he really was and made her realize that people are not always what they seem.

Four months ago, Griffin was found dead and Clara’s sister, Emily, was arrested for his murder. Emily isn’t saying a word, but she wants Clara to. Clara doesn’t know what to think. Did Emily murder Griffin for what he did to Clara—or is there even more to this story than Clara can imagine? Finding out the truth might set her free from her guilt, but what else will it drag into the light?

What Happened that Night was not what I expected. At all. I liked Clara. She’s been through some horrific things, but she’s struggling to be strong and find out the truth—even if the truth will change the way she sees the world forever. I wasn’t a fan of her dad, but her mom and the other supporting characters were great, especially Anniston, who lives in pink and wants to be a journalist.

What Happened that Night is the new book by Deanna Cameron.

(Galley courtesy of Wattpad Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Stranger Inside, by Lisa Unger

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Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:  The Stranger Inside
Author:  Lisa Unger
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

When Rain Winter was 12, she barely escaped the clutches of a murderous madman with her life. Her two best friends, Hank and Tessa, were not so lucky. Hank was forever scarred by his experiences that day, and Tessa never came home. When the killer was released, Rain lived in fear—until someone killed him.

Now Rain is a stay-at-home mom who does her best not to think about those dark days, although she misses her time as an investigative journalist. Then another man who got away with murder ends up dead, and Rain starts to wonder if there’s any connection between this case—and the one from her own past.

The Stranger Inside had quite the twist I never saw coming. Rain is a nuanced character, both longing for her journalist days and yearning to give herself completely to motherhood. I found Hank fascinating—and likable—despite his issues, and I enjoyed the twining of past and present to show the reader the rest of the story.

Lisa Unger is a bestselling author. The Stranger Inside is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: 29 Seconds, by TM Logan

 

29seconds
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  29 Seconds
Author:  TM Logan
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Sarah is a mother trying to adapt to being a single parent. She’s also a young professor fighting to earn a permanent place at the university she works at. A university controlled by Alan Hawthorne—charming, famous, and powerful, and therefore untouchable. Sarah has heard the rumors about his treatment of women behind closed doors, but now she’s become his next target.

Hawthorne pulls in million-dollar grants for the university, so no one will listen to a word Sarah says. She has nowhere to turn and no way to keep away from Hawthorne. Until one night she rescues a young girl from would-be kidnappers and the girl’s father turns out to be a businessman with powerful connections. He offers Sarah a burner phone and a choice.

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

This book centers around moral grey areas, and that’s a hard subject for me, as I’m a black-and-white kind of person. It’s either wrong or right, there are no grey areas to me. But Sarah is stuck between a rock and a hard place and she makes the best choice she can. What comes next is more than she ever expected.

TM Logan is an award-winning, bestselling author. 29 Seconds is his newest novel.

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

Book Review: State of Lies, by Siri Mitchell

 

state of lies
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:   State of Lies
Author:   Siri Mitchell
Genre:   Mystery, thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Georgie Brennan is a physicist, a mother, a wife, and the daughter of the next possible secretary of defense. Then her husband Sean is killed by a hit-and-run driver, and she can barely make it through each day. Her son is struggling to cope with his father’s death. Her parents are consumed with their ambitions for her father’s career. And getting out of bed sometimes just seems like too much effort.

Then Georgie discovers that Sean was lying to her about where he was going the day he died. She realizes his computer—and his knife—is missing. She hears strange noises under the house and starts seeing strange faces in the neighborhood. Soon Georgie realizes she can’t trust a soul:  not her parents, not her friends, and, as the mysteries pile up, maybe not even herself.

I liked Georgie from the first page of State of Lies. She’s smart—very smart, which is always a plus in a protagonist—and even when dealt a crippling blow, she keeps moving forward. The writing is tight, and the plotting kept me guessing what was really going on up until the end—and there were several surprises I never saw coming. This will keep you reading even if you’re supposed to be doing something else.

Siri Mitchell has a business degree and experience working in the government. State of Lies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Never Have I Ever, by Joshilyn Jackson

never have i ever
Image belongs to HarperCollins/William Morrow.

Title:   Never Have I Ever
Author:  Joshilyn Jackson
Genre:   Domestic suspense
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Amy Whey is happy with her life:  professor husband, fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, baby son, best friend Charlotte. Sure, she doesn’t get to dive as much as she used to since the baby was born, but she wouldn’t trade her family for anything. She’s helping Charlotte with the neighborhood book club when new neighbor Roux shows up.

Roux charms the neighborhood women, and soon they’re drinking wine and spilling secrets. They all think it’s innocent fun, but Amy knows better. She sees the darkness in Roux’s eyes  and sees the first tiny ripples of hurt she causes. When Roux tells Amy she knows the truth about what Amy did years ago—and she’ll tell that horrible secret if Amy doesn’t give her exactly what she wants—Amy wonders if she can beat the devil at her own game.

Secrets upon secrets unravel as Amy races to find out the truth about Roux before the women spills Amy’s secrets and ruins her life for good.

I do love Joshilyn Jackson’s writing, and, while I’m disappointed this one isn’t Southern fiction (my favorite), Never Have I Ever is an excellent, engrossing book. Amy’s been running from the truth for a long time, and she’s desperate to keep her secret and the life she loves safe. Roux is a terrifying kind of evil—if only she’d used her powers for good!—and Amy will do whatever is necessary to keep her family—and her secret—safe. Highly readable, and I cannot recommend this enough.

Joshilyn Jackson is an award-winning author. Never Have I Ever is her newest novel.

Book Review: The Seekers, by Heather Graham

The Seekers
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Seekers
Author:   Heather Graham
Genre:   Mystery, suspense, paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Kerri Wolfe writes meticulously researched books about crimes of the past, but she’s been invited to join The Seekers, a team of paranormal investigators, as they investigate a supposedly haunted old inn. In the 1920s, the inn was the site of brutal ax murders—and that investigation uncovered even more ghastly crimes.

Kerri wants to find out the truth about the old murders. She’s not there for ghosts. But when the team discovers a horrifying—and recent—murder scene in the basement of the inn, she finds herself involved in a murder investigation in the present. What she really wants is an explanation for the apparition she keeps seeing.

Joe Dunhill knows how she feels. As the newest member of the Krewe of Hunters, he’s still adjusting to being able to see and talk to the dead. The small town where the inn is located is full of old rumors, legends, and superstition, and he’s not sure how to find the murderer without knowing the truth of the past.

I rarely read anything creepy or scary—because I’m a chicken—and the beginning of The Seekers is a bit of both…but I made it through. The setting was fascinating, although I’ve no plans to stay in a haunted inn anytime soon (or ever).  Lots of threads tangled together here, past and present, and this was an engrossing, thrilling read.

Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. The Seekers is her newest novel, #28 in the Krewe of Hunters series.

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

Book Review: The Mother-in-law, by Sally Hepworth

the mother-in-law
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Mother-in-law
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Genre:  Domestic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Lucy married Ollie ten years ago, she couldn’t wait to become part of his family. But his mother, Diana, had other plans. She kept Lucy at arm’s length, always said exactly the wrong thing and made Lucy feel never-good-enough, and prioritized her job aiding refugees. Who could compete with that? Not stay-at-home mom Lucy.

Now Diana has been found dead of an apparent suicide, a note beside her blaming advanced cancer. But the police aren’t so sure. There are traces of poison in her system—and no trace of cancer. Things aren’t adding up, and every member of the family is under scrutiny—especially Lucy, whose tumultuous relationship with Diana is no secret from anyone.

I was kind of on the fence about this one. I know every mother-in-law isn’t evil—they’re just typecast that way—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to read something predictable. This was not a predictable read. It’s told in alternating viewpoints—Lucy and Diana—then and now, gradually revealing the truth of the relationship between the two—and what drove someone to kill Diana.

Sally Hepworth is a bestselling author who lives in Australia. The Mother-in-law is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Little Lovely Things, by Maureen Joyce Connolly

little lovely things
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Little Lovely Things
Author:  Maureen Joyce Connolly
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Claire Rawlings can’t afford to get sick. Her two little girls are asleep in the back seat. She’s a medical resident. And she’s speeding down the highway. She doesn’t have time to get sick. But nausea and dizziness wait for no woman, so she exits the freeway to find a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out.

When she wakes up a short while later, her car—and her two little girls—are gone. There are no witnesses, and the police struggle to find any leads. As the days pass, Claire struggles against her own guilt as her marriage crumbles under the strain.

The only lead they have—a witness who’s unreliable at best—only leads them to more devastation, but Claire is convinced there is still hope…if only she can hold things together and hang on.

Little Lovely Things is about a mother’s worst nightmare and is at turns horrific. The mystery over who took the girls haunts Claire’s every moment and even when it seems all hope is lost; she clings to the remnant. There’s some interesting—and depressing—bits about Traveler society, and overall, the book is dark with glimmers of hope and light.

Maureen Joyce Connolly is a poet, a foodie, and a dragon boat racer. Little Lovely Things is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)