Review: Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott stories are always quite a ride. You think you know how you’re supposed to feel, what you’re supposed to think. Just when you think you have it all figured out, though, she flips the script.

Kit and Diane bring out the best, and worst, in each other. Unlikely friends since high school, they went their separate ways. But fate throws them back together. Kit knows something about Diane, and that something haunts her every thought. Diane is mysterious and smart, cunning and deceptive. And Kit can’t seem to get away from her. This time around the stakes are much higher.

This story has it all. Murder, deceit, coverups, secrets, you name it. A bit rushed at the end to tie up loose ends, but still very good.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Give Me Your Hand

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Review: Liar, Liar by Lisa Jackson

I’ve loved Lisa Jackson for a very long time. She writes one heck of a whodunnit. Her latest offering is no exception.

It’s been 20 years since Remmi last saw her mother. An explosion in the desert, a shooting, missing children, and then Didi Storm was gone. Nobody knew what happened to her, even her teenage daughter. A minor celebrity in her day, Didi slowly slipped off the radar. Interest is renewed, however, when a mysterious author writes a tell-all book about Didi’s life. And then there’s the jumper, a woman clearly trying to look like Didi leaping to her death. Or was she pushed? Oh and let’s not forget Remmi’s infant sister and brother, both missing since the night of Didi’s disappearance. And last but not least, Noah, an almost love interest who coincidentally also went missing that night.

Seems like a lot going on, I know. But trust me, it goes together. And everything fits, slowing coming together to complete the puzzle. A nice little mystery with a great storyline and interesting characters.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Liar, Liar

Review: Gracie’s Secret by Jill Childs

Confession: At about the halfway point in the book, my brain was already writing the review and giving it three stars. For me, that’s a decent story. Good enough to finish, not particularly memorable, and probably not blog-worthy. But luckily I rarely review books at the midpoint because this is one that definitely moved up in the ranks by the end.

The story starts out in dramatic fashion. Little Gracie’s been seriously injured in a car accident. As Jen takes her place by her daughter’s bedside, she finds herself hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Gracie is her entire world, especially after her separation from Gracie’s dad. But Gracie does recover. And she has quite a story to tell. Thankful to have her daughter back, Jen loses herself in caring for her. When Matt comes into her life, she thinks her luck in life just may be changing. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if things were wrapped up all nice and neat and tidy.

I was a bit thrown off by the tone of this story. For most of it, Jen’s talking to Gracie, narrating what happened right before and after the accident. It works in some places but is annoying in others. So maybe that’s why my initial impressions weren’t as favorable. But it redeems itself as the story hits a few twists and turns and then ends with a bang. Definitely worth reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Gracie’s Secret

Review: Bring Me Back by BA Paris

There’s a thread of commonality in most psychological thrillers. Jilted lover, mental illness, murder and mayhem…it almost reads like a recipe. Many of them are still very good, though. However, I’m always excited when I read one that’s so far off that path that it rocks my reading world.

It’s been 12 years since Layla disappeared. Suspected at first of causing her harm, Finn has finally moved on. Quite unexpectedly, he’s found love and happiness with Ellen, Layla’s sister. But just as they are ready to begin planning their wedding, the memory of Layla rears its head. At first they brush it off as coincidence, maybe even someone playing a cruel joke. Eventually, though, there’s no denying that Layla, or someone pretending to be her, is back. The question is, what does she want? And where has she been all this time?

Outstanding. That’s about all I can say about this one. It’s dark and foreboding and you just know something bad is going to happen. And I gotta admit, I’m pretty good at figuring things out before the very end. But even I didn’t see this one coming!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Bring Me Back

Review: The Family at Number 13 by S.D. Monaghan

I think this would’ve been really good as a short story. It had a few clever little bits here and there, it definitely had some psychologically disturbed characters, and it had a little grisliness. However, it also had a lot of extraneous detail (I decided to just skim a few pages in each chapter, didn’t miss much) and some plot points that made me go “hmmmm” — and not in a good way.

I think this book just needed an editor. An editor to make the author get rid of the cheesy parts, tighten up all that description that led nowhere, and perhaps not have the main “problem” revolve around a trampoline in the back yard. Really. (And I use the trampoline as the euphemism for all the things that happen in relation to that trampoline, but I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll remain vague.)

Anyway, this is an okay book, fairly entertaining, and somewhat of a psychological thriller… but again, might be best if born again as a short story.

-calliope

Buy THE FAMILY AT NUMBER 13

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been going through a bit of a reading funk lately. Work is busy, free time is rare, so nothing has really caught my attention for the last couple of weeks. When a recent road trip came up, though, I knew I needed something good. So I went to this one on my TBR list. Because Chris Bohjalian hasn’t disappointed me yet.

The story starts off with a bang with Cassie, aka the flight attendant, waking up in a strange hotel room in Dubai. But wait…there’s more. *See what I did there?* There’s also a very dead man next to her. She knows who he is, sure. And she even knows how she ended up in his room. Beyond that? It’s all lost in an alcohol-induced blackout. So she does what any logical person would do. She cleans up any evidence of her presence and flees back to her hotel just in time to board her next flight and get out of Dodge.

Of course the story can’t end there. Once back in the states, Cassie finds herself in deeper than she could ever have imagined. And her erratic behavior combined with a dependency on drinking make matters so much worse. She’s in trouble on all fronts. Everything is at stake-her career, her freedom, even her life.

This was definitely one of those books I just couldn’t put down. From the very beginning until the last page, I was completely hooked. It has everything. Family drama, Russian spies, suspense, a few nice little twists…

Trust me when I say this one needs to be on your summer reading list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Flight Attendant

Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is so darn good. I’ve enjoyed every single one of her books. From the very first pages until the last word she keeps you guessing. And this one is no exception.

Maggie has a happy life. Her handsome husband, Noah, is a successful doctor. She adores her stepson Caleb. Together the three of them are living the American dream. There’s just one piece missing for Maggie. She has a daughter, Anna, who she hasn’t seen since she was a baby. But now Anna is back in her life and everything seems perfect. Until it’s not so perfect anymore.

Things begin to quickly go wrong. However, it goes from bad to the absolute worst when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Did he or didn’t he? And what was going on with Anna in the weeks leading up to her death? These are the questions that Maggie is faced with as she tries to cope with the loss of Anna while at the same time Noah is on trial for his life.

Besides the fact that the author is simply brilliant, I loved the way this one was written. Noah’s story begins with the conclusion of his trial and works its way backwards. We hear Maggie’s story going forward from the time she’s reunited with Anna. The two collide in a dramatic finish when Noah’s fate is revealed. Grab this one and be ready for quite a ride!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: After Anna