NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, September 26, 2016

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

What would you do if the worst thing that had ever happened was suddenly undone?

That's the dilemma facing the Whitaker family when their kidnapped older daughter, Julie, appears on their doorstep one evening -- 8 years after she had vanished! They all want to believe -- but is this girl who is so different really Julie? Her stories about what happened during those 8 years reveal horrible abuse and degradation. Is that why she seems changed?  Anna, the mother, has some doubts that she can't seem to face. Denial. Hope. In equal measures.

Although this is a mystery in some ways, it is more a story of relationships between mothers and daughters. Of things spoken and those words left unsaid. A chasm of needs not met due to a lack of communication. And a tragedy that results from that kind of neglect.

I thought I would like this more than I did, but mostly I was just annoyed because a simple DNA test at the outset would have answered all the questions. No, I'm not giving it away here. I don't understand denial as a self defense mechanism, so that's probably why I have some issues. Found the whole story a bit hard to believe, really, and the ending where it was all neatly tied up fell short of meeting my expectations for a climax. I never connected with any of the characters, especially not Anna, and the sister and husband of Anna were completely undeveloped.

It was fast paced and I read it in an evening but would not really consider it suspenseful or any type of thriller -- more domestic drama. Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

OK -- book wins. I have no idea what the heck I just read. I don't understand really what happened or why or anything. Perhaps that was the point. A totally crazy (forgive the pun) rollercoaster ride that ends in a spectacular crash. What was real, what was true -- no clue.

I can't say I enjoyed reading this, but definitely it will be interesting to discuss at book club this week. Mental illness of this nature can be a very scary thing and whether or not one believes in the controversial state of DID, it totally freaked me out seeing that probably there was no way that Kaitlyn/Carly would ever be well.

Definitely a book I would not have read had it not been a book club selection by the teens and I am not into horror, supernatural, magic, demons, possession, etc., but I did like the way the author used different approaches to advancing the narrative. From the transcription of video, interviews, diary entries, etc. to the police reports and summaries, the reader is caught up in a maelstrom from the beginning and it's hard to take a complete breath until it's over.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the e-book ARC to review.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Psychological suspense that keeps you guessing -- and of course, with the expected twist as that is the nature of most books of this genre right now!

Just who is the psychopathic narcissist?

Emma and Jane both live in the same house -- One Folgate Street -- Emma a couple of years prior and Jane now. They both become involved with the architect who designed the unique dwelling and who insists upon the "rules" for those who live there. The idea, he claims, is that people can be changed by this state-of-the art dwelling and minimalist living style.

The narration alternates between Emma (THEN) and Jane (NOW). Each has her own personality and both have recently experienced an event that has left them vulnerable and weakened. Now they become obsessed by the house, the architect, and those that lived there before -- especially when it seems that death has visited. The characters have a lot of depth and the chapters are short so the book moves very fast. Manipulation, deception, and suspicion lead to only one end.

Ignore the fact that these books of psycho drama featuring women are now always compared to those titles I will not name, but you know what I mean. There is a lot of hype about this novel, and it is definitely one all fans of this genre should read.  The author is writing under a pseudonym and you can tell it's not a debut work.

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

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

Excellent suspense -- kept me guessing.

What would you do if you came home to a house that had been stripped of every single piece of your live-in boyfriend's presence and he went missing as well?

Hannah goes completely off the rails and becomes obsessed with tracking down Matt and begging him to return to her and their life together. She tries everything she can think of, and her work and job start to suffer, but she cannot find a trace of him and starts to doubt herself and their relationship. Though focusing on their good times, and claiming that nothing had changed in the weeks and days leading up to Matt's disappearance, her friends can't help but wonder what really had been going on between the pair. Hannah is about to lose everything in pursuit of Matt.

I really did not like Hannah at all, and was very unsympathetic to her desire to track Matt down and get him back (ladies, we all know that never works, they leave for a reason), I was suspicious of her and the story line looking for the big twist. It was a very fast read and I enjoyed it very much because of the writing style and the characters -- who were all a bit unsavory!

Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the ARC to review. This would make a great choice for a book club discussion.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Happened upon this title and was hooked by synopsis -- sounds like a debut I don't want to miss.
Lots of hype by big names for this one --

"There is a God. There is a Devil. Demons walk among us."

Debut and first in series featuring Detective William Oliver Layton-Fawkes (nickname: Wolf) and set in London. 

Though I saw the hype when I requested this one, I reserved judgment and went ahead. I didn't find it nearly as compelling and brilliant as blurbed, but it was definitely an interesting thriller with characters that I absolutely detested. Almost all of them were hideous people.  And of course they don't follow any normal rules of police investigative procedure but they rarely get in trouble over it though Wolf spent time in a psych ward for going crazy on a prisoner. Now he's back to work. That said, it was still a good read.

Containing lots of nice grisly and gory details for fans of that nature, the story focuses on Wolf's hunt for the "Ragdoll killer."  A body is found, but wait, it is SEVERAL different people all stitched together. As each is identified, Wolf finds that there is a personal connection. He's even more certain of that when a list of the next to die has his name on it.

It is fast paced and has a lot of potential in series development as the reader will learn more about the characters and why they have so many rough edges.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Ecco Harper Collins for the e-book ARC to review.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

Well -- WOW! Starting out slowly, building with a relentlessness that keeps the reader glued to the pages, and finishing with a bang makes this a suspense thriller that I won't soon forget.

Sophie Duguet goes from zero to full on crazy over a matter of months. When she awakens to find that the boy she nannies is dead, she runs. Though she changes her appearance and secures a new identity, she can't seem to escape this particular madness. No matter what she does, or where she goes, she is losing hope and her last grasp on sanity. Someone knows exactly what has happened to Sophie, and why.

This is fantastic writing by an author whose books I anticipate and devour.  It was painful waiting for the release so I could get my hands on it having been turned down for an ARC. My heart was pounding as I turned the pages reading as fast as I could. I loved it! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

City of Strangers by Louise Millar

When Grace and Mac Scott return from honeymooning in Thailand to find an unidentified dead man in their new apartment's kitchen, she feels compelled to find out who he was and to contact his family. Still reeling from her father's death, Grace -- a photographer -- decides that she will investigate this man after she finds a note next to an unopened wedding present. The note has a name and she embarks (half-cocked) on an international hunt to the consternation of her new husband. Fortunately, Grace has a friend who works for a newspaper and he is quite helpful in guiding her search. Hopscotching across Europe seeking out information, Grace finds that the man has many identities and comes from a family with a very bad reputation. Who was he and what was he doing in her kitchen?

I found this a bit slow to be honest. I also did not like the character of Grace and the premise of her fixation on finding out the identity of the man (who was likely a criminal who broke into her apartment) seemed a bit far fetched. I found her annoying and obsessive about the whole situation. It had a predictable ending that any reader of this genre could see coming, including the romantic interest. I doubt I'd read another book featuring Grace Scott but I have read most of this author's past work and will again as long as it is not this character. I duly note that others have really loved this novel and Grace.

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