Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

If you loved other books by Caroline Kepnes, you must read this one. And if you’ve never read any of her work, this one’s a great place to start.

Jon and Chloe are very different, but they share an unbreakable bond. Best friends during childhood, that bond is almost broken when Jon is abducted. Chloe is devastated at first but is eventually able to move on and form some sort of a normal life. But then Jon returns. Although four long years have passed, that bond is still there. Jon’s different, though. Not only in appearance, but in something deeper. He now possesses a terrifying power, the power to hurt people with just a look. And it’s not something he can fully control. So he runs as far away as he can, hoping to keep Chloe and his family safe.

While he’s on the run, he’s also looking for answers. What happened during those four lost years? Because he doesn’t remember anything, only being taken and then waking up years later. The secret to this power he doesn’t want lies with his abductor, if he can find him.

This book is very much like the author’s previous books while at the same time being very different. It has that same element of suspense, that thread of obsession running through it. But it veers off that familiar course into sci fi territory although not so far off the path that the main story is lost. A great one for summer!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Providence

Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Have you ever just really, really disliked a character in a book? Admit it, even though they’re fictional, sometimes these “people” are just so very unlikable. That was the case for me with this one. I just didn’t like her. But then she redeemed herself. Not gonna tell you how because that would be too spoilerish.

When Cass makes a seemingly minor choice on her way home late one rainy night, things will never be the same. Her decision to NOT stop and help a stranded motorist begins to haunt her as soon as she finds out that the motorist, a woman traveling alone, was murdered that same night. She torments herself with thoughts of what if…

And then she begins to forget things, to misplace things, to question her sanity. It doesn’t help matters any that her mom suffered from dementia. So Cass is certain that she’s going down that same path.

This is one of those stories that’s hard to review without giving too much away. The story drags a bit in places, and as I mentioned earlier I really didn’t like Cass for much of the story. But because I’ve loved the author’s other books, I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. You kind of see what’s coming near the end but that last twist is something else.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Breakdown

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

I’ve enjoyed other stories by Courtney Summers so it’s a logical assumption that her newest one would be a winner for me as well. And that assumption would be correct.

Sadie is on a mission. Some might call it a death wish. She prefers to look at it as a revenge mission, finding and killing the person responsible for her younger sister’s death.

Unlucky enough to have a neglectful mother, but lucky enough to have each other, Maddie was everything she lived for. Her purpose in life was to protect Maddie, to give her as normal of an upbringing as possible. Tragically, in the end she couldn’t save her. But she can punish her sister’s killer.

There are two stories going on at once here. We hear Sadie’s tale as she travels across the country hunting down a murderer. But we also hear West McCray’s voice as he narrates his podcast after Sadie disappears. He takes us back in time as Sadie takes us forward until they meet in the middle.

A good story, although I wasn’t especially crazy about Sadie for some reason. It took me a bit to get into the flow of things, reading excerpts from West’s interviews. The ending was a bit predictable but there were a few surprises along the way.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sadie

Review: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The market is flooded with mysteries. Every time one hits the top of the charts, a hundred more promising the same formula follow suit. I’m not going to pretend this newest one is one of those such books, but it is very good.

Three’s a crowd, right? Even though Natalie, Ashley, and Lauren have been friends for years, Ashley is the center around which they revolve. It seems as if the other two have always been vying for her attention, to be the one closest to her. But life and circumstances have driven them apart somewhat. Ashley, desperate to regain that closeness, arranges a girls’ weekend in Mexico. And then Ashley disappears. And Natalie can’t remember what happened. Did she have something to do with Ashley’s disappearance? Along the way, of course, secrets are revealed and motives are questioned.

This is a great beach read. Well, I don’t actually go to the beach but if I did I imagine this is the type of book I’d want to have with me. It’s fun and fast-paced and predictable while at the same time having a few twists and turns. Just in time for the summer reading season!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Girls’ Night Out

Review: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

I’ve absolutely loved everything Jennifer Hillier has written, so of course I was beyond thrilled to receive an advance copy of her newest one.

Fourteen years ago Geo did the unthinkable. And now that past has caught up with her. When her best friend Angela disappeared, most people assumed that she’d run away. But not Geo. Geo knew the truth. And when everyone else finds out about her crime, there’s no escaping the consequences. So she goes to prison, does her time, and tries to put her life back together when she’s released. When bodies start piling up again, though, the question must be asked. What’s the connection to Angela’s death? And how does it involve Geo?

This book is everything you’d want in a thriller. Great characters, gripping storyline, psychopathic suspense, twists and turns…it’s all there. So do yourself a favor and read it. And then read the author’s others if you haven’t already.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Jar of Hearts

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

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