NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Currently reading

The first Afton Tangler suspense thriller -- a cold Minnesota night, a kidnapped baby...

Don't Tell Anyone by Eleanor Gray

"When your child dies, hope and reason for living dies too."

Grace Neville's daughter, Tara, was stabbed to death in a seedy hotel and the man responsible is behind bars. It's over, time to move on -- except that convicted Jordan Dukes' father, Allan, appears at Grace's door claiming that his son -- Tara's boyfriend -- is not the one who murdered Tara. It appears that both Grace and Allan are "victims of their children's bad choices" and soon they are both caught up in trying to figure out who really killed Tara, and why.

This was a very convoluted mystery involving many red herrings as "Tara's dirty secret" is finally discovered and outed. There are many characters, some more believable and complicated than others, and the revelations were a bit of a let down and somewhat "out there" as the narrative winds down at the conclusion. Definitely a domestic drama more than a suspense thriller, it held my interest well enough and I think it would be hard for anyone to make a good guess about the whodunit.  Grace is, of course, completely undone by the death of her daughter and Grace's ex, Archie, who left her for another woman, is sorta creepy and doesn't follow along with Grace's conviction that the wrong man is in prison. The police are not portrayed very well.

In all, this was not pulse pounding but kept me guessing. It always comes back to the truth, we do not really know ANYONE - despite our firmly held idea that we should know our own children inside and out. I did like some of the quotes in the book well enough to cite another: "There are so many countless ways that Fate can snap its fingers...all those desperately sad yet banal and everyday packages of pain that life has in store for the unwary."

Thank you to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for this e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

"Best wishes on a bright here and now."

Bam! I now have a new series to look forward to after finishing this suspenseful thriller featuring ex FBI agent and forensic psychologist, Iris Ballard. Though quite a hot mess after the death of her husband, Iris comes out of retirement to assist the FBI in its hunt for the Woodsman -- notorious murderer of several women. There are no witnesses, no clues, and no suspects. This is one scary psychopath who may have met his match in Iris. I'd call her relentless.

Grisly and tense, the narrative takes off like a rocket and that makes it hard to put this book down. I liked the dialogue, the writing and the characters -- I even forgive Ms Harlow the insertion of a stereotypical romance angle. Iris is an interesting contradiction as she leaves the vodka behind and puts herself back in the game. The bad guy was as menacing as expected and the scene where he comes after Iris was of course anticipated because that always happens in this genre!

I enjoyed this and can't wait for #2. Recommending to all who like a gory thriller with a strong female protagonist.

Thank you to NetGalley and Alibi Random House for the e-book ARC to review

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fatal by John Lescroart

How can one ever imagine the consequences that might result from a single bad decision? There's no way that Kate could have known what she would set in motion when she decided to sleep with Peter Ash. Just once. After all -- no one else knew but the two of them. Right?

Great characters and storytelling made this one that I could hardly put down. I loved that it was a standalone though I'm a fan of Lescroart's series as well. He has a great vocabulary and I really enjoyed the writing style. I was kept guessing by the twists; the narrative kept surprising me as events unfolded. And there were several interesting side stories as well! In short, a very entertaining read that I would recommend. I'm not sure I'd classify it as a mystery, a suspense thriller, or even a police procedural -- more domestic fiction with a crime angle.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

When you're already plagued with panic attacks and a bit of OCD always imagining that the worst will happen -- what happens when it actually does?

Kate Priddy agrees to switch apartments with a second cousin who has an apartment in Boston while he goes to her flat in London for 6 months. Little does she know that Corbin Dell has terrible secrets and that she will be drawn into the web of a psychopath who is out for a very twisted revenge.

I do love the suspense thrillers by this author and have read all he's written to date. This one won't disappoint. Interesting characters who take turns narrating, great description and detail, and a really good story make this book hard to put down.

Thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

The cover, the title -- and the synopsis. I'm a sucker for time travel stories ever since OUTLANDER...

Taking a little departure from thrills and chills for this one :)

Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I typically avoid sweet, sentimental stories. But I really fell in love with this book. It was such a pleasant and hopeful read that, when I finished the last sentence, I almost wanted to start back at the very beginning and go through it all again!

I loved the characters, the setting, the "time travel" -- and felt their pain at separation and their joy at reunion. The narrative flipped back and forth from early 1900s to the 1970s (included some pop culture references) and between the two main characters, Joseph and Lux. The explanation for the time warp was a fog that trapped Joseph in his time but allowed Lux to go back and forth at certain times that coincided with a full moon. Time moved at a different pace in each world. Regardless of the implausibility of the science, it made for a very enjoyable reading experience.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the e-book ARC to review. I had read Melanie Gideon's previous book and will definitely keep her on my list for upcoming work.

Arroweed by Laura McHugh

What a delicious modern day Gothic mystery complete with an old, decaying family mansion and dark secrets. It has all the elements that create a sense of foreboding as Arden Arrowood returns to her childhood home when she inherits it after her father's death. The Arrowood family had left this house for a fresh start after her 20-month-old twin sisters disappeared while in her care when she was 8 years old. Though Arden witnessed the abduction, describing the gold car, the owner of that vehicle was never charged with the kidnapping.

Now, at 26, Arden is sort of lost -- she still feels the anguish of not knowing what happened to her sisters as no trace of them was ever found. She settles in, determined to hold on to the few memories she has, and hoping that she can somehow reconnect with herself and her roots there in the historic family home in Iowa by the Mississippi River. Her old friend, Ben Ferris, is still around -- he was the only other person to have seen that gold car on the fateful day. Her neighbor, her first love -- can she somehow get back to where they left off? She wants closure in order to get on with her life and suffers from the "bittersweet longing for a time and place left behind."

Home is not what it once was, however, as the town of Keokuk has deteriorated and many people still remember the Arrowoods and their tragedy. Josh Kyle, the founder of a website called Midwest Mysteries, is also interested in the unsolved case of the twins and contacts her saying that he doesn't think that the driver of that gold car is the one who abducted the twins. Could Arden be confused about what she saw?

Arden finds her answers, but not in the way that she expected, and learns the truth -- the answer she got was not the one she wanted.

I sat down this afternoon intending only to get started on this one and then put it aside to finish some other projects I was working on, but did not put it down until I finished. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping novel. I liked the characters and the atmospheric setting. Loved the descriptions of the house and the family history. Liked the sense of menace and, though I thought I had figured it all out, I was still caught off a bit off guard.  I did read the other book by this author as well and Laura McHugh has a fan in me!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge (#5)

The 5th in the series. Helen Grace lives a double life -- will her secrets ruin her career?

NOOOOOOOOOO -- M.J. Arlidge, you did not just do this to me!! A whopper of a cliffhanger in one of your best in the series?? How could you? Leaving Helen at that point?? Not nice, Mr. Arlidge, not nice.

DI Helen Grace is faced with a case that may ruin her career if her connection to the dead is discovered. She must find this killer before that happens, but her team is a mess. Infighting and grandstanding, trying to get the perpetrator behind bars because Helen is driving them hard. All the while, Helen's nemesis, Southampton crime reporter, Emilia Garanita, is holding those secrets close until she can finally get her revenge on Helen. Is Helen really cursed -- everyone she cares about ends up dead or just messed up.

Fast paced, complex and unique characters, interesting and gritty story involving the BDSM world -- you don't want to miss this one if you're a fan! This is a series that definitely needs to be read in order.

But, seriously? Don't make me wait t0o long for #6.

Thank you Edelweiss and Berkley Publishing for the e-book ARC to review!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

If you had suffered a horrible trauma, would you take a drug that would erase your memory of it? Jenny Kramer did...

4.0 out of 5 stars -- "White lies, black lies, a million lies a million times every day, everywhere, by every one of us. We are all hiding something from someone."

What a great book! I could fill this review with all of my favorite quotes -- and there were many that I highlighted - but one thing stands out again: you can never, ever, ever completely know another person. And that is probably a good thing for your relationships.

The main story line here has to do with the rape of Jenny Kramer and the controversial administration of a drug in the ER following the brutal attack. The drug is meant to cause memory loss so that the person who experienced something horrible can forget and go on with life. Unfortunately, that's not such a good idea for mental health -- as Jenny and her family come to find out. That whole subject alone would make for a great book club discussion.

The narrator here is the psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Forrester, who is called in to treat Jenny after a suicide attempt. He begins working with her, and her dysfunctional parents, to attempt memory recovery because she was still experiencing the terror of something but could not remember the event. She could not get better. I loved all the psychiatric detail in this book though I can see how it could put others off if they aren't interested in the science or psychology itself.

Without any spoilers, I'd say this was a crazy roller coaster of a novel with lots of twisty turns and ups and downs. I didn't expect the direction it took and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I'd say it was a psychological drama -- not really a thriller -- but it was very absorbing and I couldn't wait to see how it all turned out. I'd recommend it!  I can't believe the author is not a psychiatrist but she must have done a lot of research! Impressive and interesting.

This would make a great movie! I need to look for other books by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.

The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay (#3 in the Promise Falls Trilogy)

4.5 out of 5 stars -- Well, WOW -- what an ending to this trilogy. I can't believe it's actually over. I want more. Still some unfinished situations, but unless this 3-book series is going to morph and continue on, I don't know how I will get my answers! But -- wait -- rumor has it that there is a "conclusion" due out shortly. Thank heavens!

Fast-paced, short chapters, and a writing style that keeps you frantically turning the pages as this complicated case runs down. This series definitely has to be read in order -- and lucky the reader who can get all 3 books at once and read them back to back. Much of the drama that takes place in Promise Falls  in these three books occurs over the course of only weeks and ends over Memorial Day weekend. Murder, mayhem, sex scandals, kidnapping, bombing, mass poisoning...lots of action in what I think was a great story. I'll miss these very complex and interesting characters. But, if I know anything from having read most of Barclay's previous books, I think I may meet up with some of them again.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the e-book ARC to review. More to come!