Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

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Diane Chamberlain does it to me every time.  She writes stories that are so amazingly compelling that I find myself rushing through them while at the same time savoring the brilliance of the story.  Her latest is even better than that.

Tess has everything she’s ever wanted.  She’s surrounded by family and friends, close to graduating from nursing school, and engaged to the love of her life.  Then one mistake, one night, changes everything.  A drunken encounter with a strange man leaves her pregnant.  Suddenly her entire life is in upheaval.  Having a child out of wedlock in 1944 is out of the question.  So she does the only thing she knows to do.  She leaves the life she knows behind without much of an explanation to anyone.

When she settles in North Carolina with the father of her child, things definitely don’t go as expected.  She’s seen as an outsider by almost everyone in the small town.  Her new mother-in-law doesn’t care for her, and neither does her sister-in-law Lucy. Although Henry’s kind to her and she wants for nothing, he doesn’t really act like a husband.  And then there’s the accident.  Lucy’s dead, and everybody blames Tess.

But as her outsider status grows, so does her suspicion that something’s going on with Henry.  Not only is he increasingly distant, he’s gone for long periods of time during the night.  Oh and there’s that stash of hidden money she comes across…

I loved this book.  That’s not really surprising because I love this author.  But this one’s a bit different.  The historical fiction element was wonderfully written and made for one heck of a story.   This story will likely go down as one of my favorites from Diane Chamberlain.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Stolen Marriage

 

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Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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What a thrill it must be, as an author, to have your debut novel reach the top of the best seller list.  To have everyone talking about it, recommending it.  To have it made into a movie, even.  But as wonderful as this all must be, there’s a downside.  Everyone expects your next novel to be just as good if not better.  Unfair, probably.  Still, the bar has been set.

There’s a river that runs through town.  It’s a river filled with mystery and intrigue.  It’s where many a woman has met her fate over the years.  The latest death isn’t like the others, though.  Nel’s death seems different, both to her daughter Lena and to her sister Jules.  Did she really kill herself?  Or was she digging too deep, uncovering the town’s hidden secrets?  If that’s the case, then everyone connected to her is in danger as well.

Did I enjoy this one as much as The Girl on the Train?  Not really.  There’s a lot going on, and there are a lot of characters to keep up with.  It seems like the story is trying to be too much at once.  It’s a mystery/thriller, of course.  But there’s also a supernatural-paranormal element at work although that aspect is never fully developed.  That doesn’t stop me from recommending it, though.  It’s a good story, well worth your time.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Into the Water

Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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A friend…a very good one.  Someone who knows you better than you know yourself.  Someone you can turn to in your darkest hour, to help you pick up the pieces.  What can be better?  Leah considers herself lucky to have such a person in Emmy.  She’s been there for her through it all, even after all the time they were out of touch.

And now, Emmy is willing to give up everything and start over for Leah.  Everything begins to unravel, however, when a local girl turns up beaten and left for dead.  And then Emmy goes missing.  Exactly when did Leah see her last, anyway?  As Leah digs deeper and deeper, she realizes that maybe she didn’t really know Emmy that well after all.

This is the perfect follow-up to Miranda’s last novel, All the Missing Girls.  It has just the right mix of intrigue, mystery, whodunit-ness to keep you guessing.  And even if you put pieces of the story together before the halfway mark, as did I, the last 30% is sure to take you for a ride.  That alone is enough of a reason to grab this one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Perfect Stranger

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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A missing baby.  A maybe slightly psychotic mother.  A lying father.  Kinky next door neighbors.  They’re all there, a cast of characters to set you up for one heck of a story.

When their babysitter cancels at the last minute,  Anne’s first instinct is to skip the dinner party next door.  But somehow, her husband Marco convinces her that it’ll be okay to leave the sleeping baby home alone.  Their houses share a wall, after all.  And they’ll be checking up on Cora every thirty minutes.  What could possibly go wrong?

Of course it does go wrong.  Baby Cora goes missing.  And there are very few clues left behind.  It’s natural that suspicion would fall upon her parents.  Anne has been slightly depressed, after all. And Marco’s business isn’t doing so well. Was he so desperate for money that he’d stage a kidnapping and ransom demand?

But wait.  There’s more. There are also the shady dinner party neighbors, especially the wife Cynthia who has eyes for Marco.  And Anne’s dad? He’s got a ton of money, thanks to her mom.  Along with that, he has some questionable business dealings.  Or was it really just a random event, a crime of opportunity?  Somehow the detectives in charge don’t think so.  But the deeper they dig, the more twists and turns they find.

This was quite an enjoyable book.  There are so many characters who could be guilty that even when I found how who dunnit, I was still suspicious of the others.  And it’s very twisty and turny, right up until the very end.  Also to note, I listened to the audio version which had an excellent narrator.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Couple Next Door

 

Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

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There are those books that, while good enough to keep you reading, aren’t necessarily in the “can’t put it down until I finish it” category.  And as voracious readers, we understand that.  Not every story can be a page turner of epic proportions.  That’s what I was thinking as I worked my way through the first half of this one.  But then, oh boy.

The loss of a child is unimaginable for most of us, thankfully.  So it’s impossible to truly understand how we might react.  Would you find the strength to go on?  Or would you curl up in a ball and simply wither away?  Jacob’s mother is faced with just this dilemma when his young life is tragically ended on a rainy street.  To make matters worse, the driver just keeps on going.  Justice is not served, she’s left without a child and a purpose, and a killer runs free.  So she leaves town, presumably hoping for a fresh start elsewhere.

The detectives on the case, however, can’t let it go.  Lead after lead is exhausted, and still they plow on, hoping for that big break.  And finally it comes.  But it’s not what they expected.  Actually, it’s not what anyone expected.  And this is where I’ll stop.

Told in differing viewpoints alternating between past and present, this story is unforgettable.  Seems like a simple detective novel at first, but ends up being so much more.  So much more that I did not move from my couch as I raced through the last half.  Get it, read it, and enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  I Let You Go

Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

  
Detective Cormoran Strike’s assistant Robin receives a special delivery – of a severed leg. And that’s the impetus for following around dangerous and seedy characters from Strike’s past. 

This book is way more gory and psycho than the first two – and definitely too much so for my tastes. But it’s a beautifully written book with just enough clues to make you feel like you should have known who the culprit was all along. Personally, I liked the side stories of Robin’s fiancé and Cormoran’s superficial love life. I also liked traipsing around city and country alike, accompanying Robin in shadowy doorways and looking out for the bad guys. 

Excellent read. 

-calliope

Buy: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3)

Review: Heartsong Cottage by Emily March

  
Shannon has a broken heart – and a secret. Daniel has a broken heart – and is a detective.  It’s up in the air whether they can find healing and solace together, or if their trust issues supercede their chemistry. 

Heartsong Cottage is the latest in the Eternity Springs series, which I find charming and heartwarming. 

Romance? Check. A wedding? Check. A drunken mess? Check. Good friends? Check. Celeste working her magic? Check and double-check. 

When Shannon and Daniel wade through uncertainty, the Eternity Springs community comes through for them. Love from their friends and the healing spirit of the town are more than these broken people hoped for. And I appreciate that kind of charming embrace. 

But the trope has been overdone. I’ve read too many stalker-traumatizes-and-detective-saves-the-day suspenseful romances. I skim-read about a dozen pages in the middle of the book because I felt like I had read them before – in a half dozen romance novels in the last five years. 

March’s writing is excellent. The characters are loveable. Eventually there’s resolution and a nice, tidy, happy ending. But the journey there wasn’t the fresh new adventure I was hoping for. 

-calliope 

Buy HEARTSONG COTTAGE ($5.99 today)