Tag: thriller

Book Review and Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie, by J.T. Ellison

good girls lie
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Good Girls Lie
AuthorJ.T. Ellison
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

The Goode School, known as a Silent Ivy, is a prestigious boarding school that accepts only the brightest young women—especially daughters of the rich and powerful. The Good School is known for its traditions, like the secret societies and the honor code—lying will get you expelled. But a new girl has come to The Goode School. And she has a secret.

No one at the school bats an eye when the hazing begins—it’s tradition, after all—it’s just girls being girls and the girls would never do things they aren’t supposed to. No matter how cruel or vicious the reality is, the teachers and the head of the school turn a blind eye—until a girl ends up dead and all the secrets of the school are on the verge of being revealed. Secrets have a way of coming to the light.

I finished reading Good Girls Lie…and I’m still not sure who the bad guy is. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the characters’ heads—while casting suspicion on basically everyone, which kept me completely off-balance. The creepy boarding school setting is so well-detected I could practically smell the old buildings. If you need a tidy resolution to make you a happy reader, this might be the best choice for you, but it was absolutely a compelling, engrossing read.

J.T. Ellison is a New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author. Good Girls Lie is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

smoke screen
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Smoke Screen
AuthorTerri Blackstock
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Nate Beckett is a smoke jumper. He’s always busy fighting wildfires, and he certainly doesn’t have time to come home to the town that believed the worst of him. Fourteen years before, Nate’s father and the preacher got in a very loud, very public argument, and when the preacher was murdered that night, everyone believed Nate’s dad killed him. When the church burned to the ground, everyone believed Nate did it—and rather than stay and fight, he just left.

Fourteen years ago, Nate and the preacher’s daughter, Brenna Strickland were in love—until the night his father was accused of killing her father. After that night, Brenna thought things couldn’t get worse, but now she’s fighting an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband and his younger trophy wife—and his daddy’s money and influence. Brenna turns to alcohol to cope, but when the custody battle grows heated and new information about the murder years before comes to light, Brenna and Nate must work together to find out the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Smoke Screen. The things Brenna struggles with are enough to drive anyone to drink—even the preacher’s daughter. Her ex-husband and his daddy were enough to make me want a drink sometimes. The growth of her character through this novel was inspiring. Nate, too, grows a lot in this book. Being the son of a convicted murderer cannot be easy, but he handles himself with class and strength through it all.

Terri Blackstock is a USA Today– and New York Times-bestselling author. Smoke Screen is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Trace of Evil, by Alice Blanchard

trace of evil
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.

Title:  Trace of Evil
AuthorAlice Blanchard
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in the town she grew up in. Burning Lake, New York has a dark past, full of covens, mysteries, and murder. Now Natalie’s been tasked with finding a link between the Missing Nine—nine homeless people who have gone missing over the years. And Natalie sees a connection she doesn’t like—a connection to a decades’ old death.

Then Daisy Buckner, a local schoolteacher turns ups dead, and the one suspect collapses into a coma only hours later. Everyone loved Daisy—or so Natalie thinks—but Daisy was hiding secrets, secrets that just might have gotten her killed. But the darkness in Burning Lake hides secrets that Natalie cannot even fathom.

Trace of Evil is well-written, compelling, and I didn’t have a clue who the killer was. (Either of them, actually.) But, two things caught my attention:  1) I never felt like I was truly experiencing Natalie’s thoughts and feelings. The point-of-view felt quite distant to me. And 2)…No one in this town—adult, teenager, police officer, no one—gave a second thought to the prevalence of covens. They were everywhere, as if it were a normal, expected part of the teenage experience. Which seemed weird to me, honestly. I have zero experience with a place where teenage covens are the norm, so this seemed just past far-fetched to me. But that’s just my own experience.

Alice Blanchard is an award-winning author. Trace of Evil is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Synapse, by Steven James

synapse
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Synapse
AuthorSteven James
Genre:  Suspense, thriller
Rating:  5 out of 5

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but what they believe. Is hope real for them, or merely an illusion? 

Kestrel Hathaway is a minister reeling from unthinkable tragedy when she witnesses a terrorist attack and steps in to render aid. When she’s questioned by the officials, she realizes the possibility of another attack—a devastating one—is looming, and she and her Artificial, Jordan, work together to untangle the lies and secrets wrapped around the attack.

Federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon is determined to stop the attack he knows is coming. He doesn’t want Kestrel in danger—but her insight might be just the thing he needs to break the case.

And Jordan is asking questions an Artificial should never ask; questions about life, God, and the afterlife. Where does the line between humanity and Artificial blur?

This book was a wild ride from the very first page. I read it straight through because I had to know what happened! I was very intrigued with Kestrel, who is a minister asking tough questions in the wake of tragedy. I’ve never read a suspense/thriller book with a minister as the main character, and I think every novel of this type set in the future that I’ve read has done away with the idea of faith and religion, so this was fascinating to read. I highly recommend this novel—but don’t start it unless you have a few free hours to kill right then!

Steven James is a bestselling author with a master’s degree in Storytelling. Synapse is his newest novel.

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

Book Review: Scared Little Rabbits, by A.V. Geiger

scared little rabbits
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:  Scared Little Rabbits
AuthorA.V. Geiger  
Genre:  YA, suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Nora was thrilled to be chosen for the Maker Project:  three weeks at the elite Winthrop Academy where she’ll have the chance to put her coding skills to use on the dazzling new project she’s sure she’ll have an idea for. But everyone seems to know each other already and have formed their groups, and Nora’s left on the fringes, watching.

Until Maddox befriends her and they have a great idea for their project. But Maddox’s girlfriend is atop the hierarchy at the Maker Project and making her angry is the last thing Nora wants to do. Then someone winds up dead…and Nora is left wondering if anyone is who they say they are.

I’m not a huge social media person, but I can see where the InstaLove App would be hugely popular, especially for wallflowers like Nora. I liked her well enough, even if her social awkwardness was sometimes a bit much. Surely she wasn’t really that naïve? I enjoyed this book for what it was and read it in one sitting, but nothing in it was completely unexpected (except maybe the scene with Nora and the pool).

A.V. Geiger is an epidemiologist. Scared Little Rabbits is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Tracking Game, by Margaret Mizushima

tracking game
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:  Tracking Game
Author: Margaret Mizushima
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Mattie Cobb is a K-9 officer in Timber Creek, Cole Walker is the town veterinarian. Their romance may be blossoming, but secrets still threaten to keep them apart. When an explosion outside a community dance send them racing outside, they find a burning van and the dead body of Nate Fletcher, a local outfitter. But it wasn’t the explosion that killed Nate, it was two gunshots to the head.

When their only suspect winds up dead and Mattie searches for his body, she hears the growl of a predator—but not one of the cougars native to the area. Soon she realizes that they know nothing of what Nate Fletcher was truly up to—and what they’re up against.

Tracking Game wasn’t a bad read. I was interested enough to keep reading, but some of the details of Robo (Mattie’s K-9), instead of being worked seamlessly into the story, were highlighted to the reader, as if the author were pointing out her knowledge. I’m not really a fan of author intrusion, so that was a detractor for me. This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and Mattie’s reactions to things felt a little…unrealistic to me as well.

Margaret Mizushima  is an award-winning author. Tracking Game is her newest novel, Number five in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series.

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

 

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: One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski

one night gone
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  One Night Gone
Author:    Tara Laskowski
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Maureen Haddaway arrives in Opal Beach, she’s a Summer Girl:  working at the carnival that sets up at the beach town during the tourist season. She makes her first real friends and decides that her destiny—and her future—is in the seaside town. But some of the people Maureen has met are hiding things, and before the summer is over, Maureen disappears.

Years later, Allison Simpson arrives in Opal Beach to housesit in the off-season as she recovers from a very messy—and very public—divorce. Soon she finds herself drawn into the details of Maureen’s disappearance thirty years before. But Opal Beach still hides secrets, and Maureen’s fate isn’t even the most surprising one.

The setting in One Night Gone is such an integral part of this novel! The beach in the winter is something I have no desire to experience and reading this novel did not change that perception at all. I enjoyed reading the dual perspectives as Maureen’s and Allison’s stories unfolded, and the intricate connections in them kept me reading a little too late at night. I definitely recommend this read!

Tara Laskowski is an award-winning author. One Night Gone is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Pretty Guilty Women, by Gina LaManna

pretty guilty women
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Pretty Guilty Women
Author:    Gina LaManna
Genre:  Mystery, thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

At the exclusive spa where the Banks wedding is about to take place, the luxurious surroundings promise a peaceful, posh vacation where old friends can catch up and relaxation is key. Until a man ends up dead—and four different women claim they murdered him.

Kate is used to excess and luxury—but not to being dumped at the front desk by her wealthy boyfriend. She’s used to being envied, but she is the one feeling jealous on this trip as she meets up with her college roommates and sees the lives they have.

Ginger has just about had it with the chaos of family life. Her kids won’t listen, her husband is oblivious, and everyone depends on mom to hold things together. Ginger just wishes she were a bit more carefree—like her college days before her best friend betrayed her.

Emily just wants the pain to stop. She’ll eventually drown it in a bottle, like always, but seeing her old friends dredges up secrets she’d prefer to keep hidden.

Lulu’s used to love being easy-come, easy-go, but she really loves her fifth husband. Now he’s hiding something, and she’s determined to find out the truth—or else.

This book was well-written and engrossing from the first page. All these women are fascinating, and I was drawn into their stories immediately. I love how the story is told in bits and pieces from each of their viewpoints, while drawing out the mystery of what really happened. Entirely binge-worthy, this is a book that will keep you hooked as you race to find out what really happened.

Gina LaManna lives near the beach. Pretty Guilty Women is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark 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.)