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

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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: 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: 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

Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Whenever I find myself rushing through the pages of a book, it means one of two things. It’s either a really bad book that for some reason I feel obligated to finish, or it’s one of those “grab you by the seat of your pants and don’t let go” books. In this case, fortunately, it’s the latter.

Two women, each trying to make a fresh start after a traumatic event. Emma is struggling to feel safe after being violently attacked in her own home. Jane is still trying to come to terms with the loss of her stillborn baby. Although their stories take place at different times, both women feel as if the house at One Folgate Place is just what they need to recover. Sure, there are A LOT of rules in place. But the price is right so they go for it despite any reservations they might have.

It’s really hard to describe what’s happening in this story. Told from two viewpoints and in two different time periods, you have to work a bit to keep the storylines separate. But then they begin to converge, and this is where the real creepiness begins. An obsessive owner, intrusive technology, secrets each woman is keeping…there’s a lot going on. But trust me, it’s worth it. A few of the twists were expected, a couple of twists at the very end really surprised me. A great thriller!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Girl Before

Review: Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Oh the drama! Quinn and Nora are distant sisters who would still do anything for each other. Tiffany is Nora’s bff… and a messed up drug addict with an illegitimate daughter. When Nora texts Quinn that she and Tiffany need her help, Quinn steps up. But it’s hard to know how to do the right thing when Nora won’t give her any details, and Tiffany is nowhere to be found.

I was psyched reading the first half of this book – there are good guys and bad guys, weak women and strong women, loving yet dysfunctional mothers, and a criminal so disgusting he turned my stomach. Baart weaves them all together in a dramatic and suspenseful plot, a story you don’t want to stop reading because you can’t believe what’s happening next.

And then — I’m not sure if it was my particular frame of mind, or if I’ve just read way too many books — I by mistake figured out the one big unknown. The mystery. The root of the drama. The guy who caused the secrets to grow bigger and bigger. And I hate that I figured it out, because it ruined the rest of the story for me. I skimmed the last half of the book, just in case there were some worthy plot points (and there were).

Baart is a master at expressing the love and confusion and envy and all the emotions in a sisterly relationship. What I appreciated most is that Baart lets her female characters be unapologetically themselves. There are no victims here, except maybe a little girl. The grown women own their choices, support each other, and make their own new beginnings.

-calliope

Buy LITTLE BROKEN THINGS (publishes on Nov.21, 2017)