Category Archives: Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever. – Goodreads

I’m not quite sure how to feel about this one. Yes, I read it in a short amount of time because I was curious about what would happen next.

I thought the entire story was very…predictable. Though I have to give Lonsdale props for the unique storyline, many of the twists felt extremely convenient and I often found myself rolling my eyes. I obviously can’t provide any examples here, though, because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

The timeline of the book is also confusing. Sometimes months would go by from chapter to chapter, with the entire story spanning about 16-18 months. I don’t mind the span of time, but I think it could have been more clear how much time had passed and less jumpy.

Lastly, before I say some good things — I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. Aimee fell flat for me, as she was either the grieving widow or magically healed and in love. The only time her personality came through was when she talked about her cafe. Her friends were obviously only in the story as a way to connect her to Ian and push her to go to Mexico. I still don’t know who the F Lana is. Ian is a stage-five clinger. James was way too damn perfect. I just…couldn’t identify with anyone, and thus cared about no one.

The book was paced well, though, and despite it’s flaws, held my interest. This is a good beach read if you’re looking for something light.

I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

25574782#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it. – Goodreads

Damn it, I’m so torn on this one. On one hand, yes, I finished the massive 688 pages of this. On the other, I was horrified and only kept reading because I paid $10 for the damn thing.

The story is told from three points of view: third-person POV from Claire (wealthy, wife of dude who is killed in the beginning), third-person POV from Lydia (Claire’s estranged sister) and first-person POV from their father, who committed suicide many years prior. His POV is told through letters to their dead sister, Julia.

Claire is the stereotypical trophy wife — thin, wears expensive clothes, plays tennis, lives in a big house, super gorgeous, etc., etc. I found her to be a little unbelievable most of the time — she came from humble beginnings yet seemed to forget literally everything about that and has zero regard the wealth around her.

Lydia is also an annoying stereotype. Single mom, dating an ex-con, she’s an ex-drug addict, all she does is complain about her weight.

Lydia and Claire haven’t spoken in years (as in — Claire doesn’t even know Lydia has a teenage daughter). But after Claire’s husband is murdered, they run into each other, some crazy ish goes down and they *sort of* become friends again. For the sake of not ruining the plot, we won’t go into that much more.

Anyway, the characters were okay. Some were flatter than others. I really hated the extreme corrupt cop vibe throughout the entire book. That also wasn’t believable to me.

I don’t mind thrillers. I don’t mind blood and gore. But the blood, gore and sexual violence in this book was over the freakin’ top. There is torture, murder, rape…usually in that order. Slaughter’s descriptions in these passages are very detailed and definitely paint a picture — though graphic — for the reader, so I can’t really fault her writing there.

I will give her credit — there were some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. The second half of the book definitely made it difficult for me to put it down — I think I was desensitized to the graphic material by that point (though every time I thought that, something else would happen and I’d be all surprised again).

My personal rating of this book? 3/5. However, if you like graphic violence in your psychological thrillers, you might enjoy this one. I will definitely be checking out other Karin Slaughter books.

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Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

WTFHAt the end of a long winter, in bucolic Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of an infant is discovered in the woods near the town’s prestigious university campus. No one knows who the baby is, or how her body ended up out there. But there is no shortage of opinions.

When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the story for the Ridegdale Reader, it’s a risk, given the severe depression that followed the loss of her own baby. But the bigger threat comes when Molly unearths some of Ridgedale’s darkest secrets, including a string of unreported sexual assaults that goes back twenty years.

Meanwhile, Sandy, a high school dropout, searches for her volatile and now missing mother, and PTA president Barbara struggles to help her young son, who’s suddenly having disturbing outbursts.

Told from the perspectives of Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth about the baby’s death revealing that these three women have far more in common than they realized. And that their lives are more intertwined with what happened to the baby than they ever could have imagined. – Goodreads

I have a thing for thrillers & mysteries & creepy as f*** books, and McCreight is so on point it’s not even funny. As I read, I always try to solve the mystery myself (I’ll admit I’m not the best at it… but I’ve figured it out a few times!!) and while I’ll have a guess with her stories, even if I’m right there’s some crazy twist that makes everything so much more… insane.

I love her writing, the way she builds the story and even though there are multiple voices… I know each one and understand their points of view. I wish she had more books for me to devour to be perfectly honest. She’s THAT good – and may have even stepped into Gillian Flynn’s spot as my favorite author.

This particular story was riddled with heartbreak and stories of depression and overall, just really sad to see where the characters came from and what they’d all gone through. But because all of those sad, terrible things tied together this larger story… it made everything make sense and instead of dragging me down, it made me even more interested in getting to the bottom of everything.

Some people may not like this because there are so many voices and so many storylines to follow along and piece together, but I really enjoyed it – the way McCreight wrote it helps you stay on the right track, so even if you’re iffy about that aspect, I still highly recommend picking it up.

I gave Where They Found Her 5/5 stars on Goodreads, and I hope everyone who reads this, reads it!

K

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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

RALitigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.

Seemingly unable to cope with what she’d done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof in an act of “spontaneous” suicide. At least that’s the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:

She didn’t jump.

Sifting through Amelia’s emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall’s roof that day-and why she died.

Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It’s about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save.

– Goodreads

First off, that is the longest summary I’ve ever seen from Goodreads. I tried to edit it down as best I could though!

Anyway,  I heard about this book on Twitter… there was a hashtag about books you thought should get more attention & this was on it quite a few times – it was even compared to Gone Girl at one point & I LOVE Gone Girl (& anything Gillian Flynn writes) so I decided to give it a go!

To me, this book was perfect. It was like Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars to be quite honest and those are two of my all-time favorite shows ever (and both based on book series). There’s a lot of girl drama and mystery, both from Amelia & her mom’s perspective. I really, really loved it and wish there was more to it.

The world building (even though technically it’s the same world that we currently live in) was amazing. I’ve never been to New York or Brooklyn but I really felt like I was there, going through it all with Amelia. And Amelia? I LOVE her. She’s so relatable and down to earth. She’s definitely not a bad girl, she just gets mixed up in some bad things.

There are a lot of twists & turns in this story, and every time I thought I had it figured out? BOOM. Something new happened & I realized I totally didn’t. The ending and how everything comes together is absolutely brilliant. Kimberly McCreight is definitely being added to my favorite author list & I’m reading Where They Found Her as we speak!

I rated Reconstructing Amelia 5/5 on Goodreads and I highly, highly recommend it.

K

The Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg

24612059If you loved  Wild, you can’t miss this.

A troubled, young widow hikes from Yosemite Valley deep into the wilderness on the John Muir Trail to elude her shameful past in this emotionally gripping story from the author of House Broken.

With her thirtieth birthday looming, Liz Kroft is heading for the hills—literally. Her emotional baggage weighs her down more than her backpack, but a three-week trek promises the solitude she craves—at least until her boyfriend, Dante, decides to tag along. His broad moral streak makes the prospect of confessing her sins more difficult, but as much as she fears his judgment, she fears losing him more. Maybe.

They set off together alone under blue skies, but it’s not long before storms threaten and two strange brothers appear along the trail. Amid the jagged, towering peaks, Liz must decide whether to admit her mistakes and confront her fears, or face the trail, the brothers and her future alone. – Goodreads

If you loved Wild, don’t pick this up because the only thing it has in common with Wild is a tortured, masochistic hiker lady (though this lady was substantially more prepared than the one in Wild).

It took me the first 60% of the book to really get into it, which, judging by the reviews on Goodreads, makes me a minority. That’s ok. I can see why a lot of people would really enjoy this—however, I was not one of them, simply because I got a lot more than I bargained for.

The description was very misleading. Even the cover was misleading. For all intents and purposes, this book looked more careful than Wild, kind of along the lines of Happiness for Beginners (two books that actually talk about hiking more than their MC’s internal struggles).

Liz is an alright MC. She’s smart, an engineer, seems to have planned well for the trip. But damn is she a martyr. Her first husband died, she has made many, many mistakes—and continues to make them by witholding information and lying to Dante, her boyfriend. Overall, I felt that she was pretty selfish. She is constantly worried that she’ll never be able to love someone again.

The dialogue was awkward in the book—it didn’t read well out loud and felt forced. The description of the scenery was great, however. I feel that I have a very good concept of the John Muir trail now.

What I did not expect with this book was boatloads of self-reflection and flashbacks. Oh, or potential murder and potential rapists/psychopaths. That was kind of thrown in at 50% and is what kept me reading after I got over the initial wtf.

In all, it wasn’t a bad read, it just wasn’t for me. I rated it a 3/5 on Goodreads.

L

A special thank you to Netgalley for letting the complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

24338293For every case Temperence Brennan has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases. One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further. – Goodreads

I have to hand it to Reichs—you know what you’re going to get when you crack open the cover of a Temperence Brennan novel. A body will be found, surrounded by curious circumstances. Tempe is called. Tempe finds some things with the bones but not all. Tempe uncovers some sort of complex drug or gang or cult related connection. Tempe attempts to apprehend suspects alone and gets into trouble. Rinse and repeat.

The thing about predictable books like this is that you know what you’re getting into. This isn’t a negative thing, not at all. Sometimes I want to expect something from a book without having to read something I’ve already read. Sometimes I crave the familiarity with some intrigue. Reichs fulfills that.

I digress.

Let’s hit the two things that piss me off the most about Tempe:

  1. How she can’t make up her mind about Ryan.
  2. Every time she runs off by herself to apprehend a bad guy…and then ‘realizes’ it was a bad idea when it’s too late.

So those things are obnoxious but expected in every book.

Overall, this installment was fast-paced and interesting. The plot took some interesting and surprising turns which I appreciated…in fact, this is my favorite Bones book yet. I also loved the bits about the internet sleuths who watch too much CSI/NCIS/Bones/etc.

I will say that the references to the show Bones were very startling and confusing, especially because I get confused when the show Tempe refers to the book. So odd.

Overall, I rated this one a 3.5/5. I will continue to read and enjoy this series.

lauren copy

Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh

23479201A moody, intense debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist, this debut novel explores four lives that fall apart in the tense aftermath of a plane crash, perfect for fans of Tana French, S. J. Watson, and Alice LaPlante. Unraveling what holds these four together is a tense, taut tale about good people who make bad decisions that ultimately threaten to destroy them. Debut author Emma Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down. – Goodreads

This one was interesting, though I didn’t find it as intense as the summary implies.

The tale is told from several character’s points of view (all in third person). Each character is connected to another in some way or another. If anything, it makes you realize how small the world really is. The story takes place in the span of a week and is set in Wales.

It starts with a plane crash. Nobody knows why the plane went down, but many people died. The plane is manned by a pilot, whose daughter, Freya, is a narrator. Among the crash survivors is a flight attendant, Cecelia, who is also a narrator. Her husband, Tom, narrator and a detective in the investigation of a police officer’s death. The officer’s father, Jim, also narrates. Throughout the book, their stories are weaved together as connections become clearer and the murder investigation continues.

The unique part of this story was the fact that there was no single mystery—there were multiple. There were plenty of twists and turns.

I figured out the murderer pretty quickly, which was a bummer. I think that if it been a little more difficult to figure out those twists I would have enjoyed the read much more. That being said, the characters were extremely well developed and really helped drive the story.

If you prefer character development, snag this. If you want action and blood, skip it. I rated it a 3.5/5 on Goodreads.

lauren copy

I received a free copy of After We Fall from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Blog Tour: Ivory Ghosts: A Catherine Sohon Elephant Mystery by Caitlin O’Connell

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In a blockbuster debut thriller brimming with majestic wildlife, village politics, and international intrigue, a chilling quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.

Still grieving over the tragic death of her fiancé, American wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon leaves South Africa and drives to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia, where she plans to face off against the shadowy forces of corruption and relentless human greed in the fight against elephant poaching. Undercover as a census pilot tracking the local elephant population, she’ll really be collecting evidence on the ruthless ivory traffickers.

But before she even reaches her destination, Catherine stumbles onto a scene of horrifying carnage: three people shot dead in their car, and a fourth nearby—with his brain removed. The slaughter appears to be the handiwork of a Zambian smuggler known as “the witchdoctor,” a figure reviled by activists and poachers alike. Forced to play nice with local officials, Catherine finds herself drawn to the prickly but charismatic Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation, whose blustery exterior belies his deep investment in the poaching wars.

Torn between her developing feelings and her unofficial investigation, she takes to the air, only to be grounded by a vicious turf war between competing factions of a black-market operation that reaches far beyond the borders of Africa. With the mortality rate—both human and animal—skyrocketing, Catherine races to intercept a valuable shipment. Now she’s flying blind, and a cunning killer is on the move. – Goodreads

You know, I never thought I’d want to take off to Africa and save the elephants.  I’m more of a save the people in my own city kind of gal. This book kind of made me want to do save elephants instead. And be a pilot.

I really enjoyed the story and plot. There was action, pain, suspense, and little bitty bit of love. Her fiance died the year prior, so there was lots of flashbacks to that—having your fiance speared by a tusked animal in front of you will leave you pretty traumatized.

One issue I had was predictability. I was pretty sure I knew who the head honcho bad dude was for a while, and  I was right. I don’t like to put a book down with that sense of smug “I knew it”.

Catherine is an interesting main character, which I appreciated. Not only is she a pilot, she’s kind of a general badass. That being said, taking a Beetle car into the desert? Even I know that’s a shit idea.

The main issue that the plot centers on is poaching for ivory, a very real and serious issue that is taking place right now. It’s a bloody war for both elephants and humans, one that is driving our elephant population to extinction. Though the novel was fictional, it was great that it shed light on this important topic.

Overall, I rated Ivory Ghosts a 3.5/5. I definitely recommend to those who are interested in animal conservation themed novels.

lauren copy

Huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read Ivory Ghosts and participate in the blog tour! Check out the other tour spots here. You can buy Ivory Ghosts on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

22926600You’re alone. You’re vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost.

Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own, she has a happily established family of two small step-sons and a loving husband with a great career. But she is also committed to her full-time job as a social worker, and her husband travels often. So when Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But despite Zoe’s glowing recommendations and instant rapport with the children, there’s something about her that Claudia cannot trust.

Moreover, there has been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work and her family far away, who will be there to protect her? And why does she feel unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in her seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder – how far would someone go to have a child of her own? – Goodreads

So, here’s the deal. I’m not a huge fan of psychological thrillers (down, all of you Gone Girl fanatics!) Most of the time I end up guessing the end twist, and they give me tons of anxiety.

So what in the hell made me request this title from Blogging for Books? I was intrigued, of course. It sounded extremely creepy and psychopathic.

And it delivered.

Seriously, someone has to be extremely twisted to hurt a pregnant woman. Well, to hurt anyone, really. But especially someone carrying a child—because who would hurt a child?

I’m going to do my best to not give anything away here, because I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy thrillers. I think it would be a better read for a female, but I may be mistaken here.

The story is told from three points of view: Claudia (first person), Zoe (first person), and Detective Lorraine (third person). It’s set in the UK and centers around the mysterious attacks on several pregnant women, all of whom appear to have had their babies haphazardly cut from them.

Social worker Claudia is a pregnant stepmom of twin boys. Their mother died of cancer when they were babies, and their father, a Naval officer, remarried Claudia very soon after.

Zoe is the newly hired nanny—though she has fabulous references and history working as a nanny, Claudia doesn’t trust her. Her husband is out of town for top-secret Naval work, and she’s by herself—is she safe with Zoe?

The characters were constructed well, each in their own way. Mysterious Zoe, lovable Claudia, and stressed-out Lorraine, who is dealing with her own family BS while trying to solve this case.

Every chapter keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know more. The chapters cycle between the characters, so you have to figure out who is who. In the end, it’s almost impossible to tell, which really amps up the conclusion.

I was hooked from the beginning until the very end. The only reason this gets a 4/5 from me is because I guessed the ending about halfway through, so one point lost for predictability. Overall, fabulous read and I would highly recommend! I will definitely be reading more of Hayes’s work.

lauren copy

I received a free copy of Until You’re Mine from Blogging for Books and Broadway Books in exchange for an honest review!

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The Accident by Chris Pavone

accidentThe Accident by Chris Pavone is a book about a book. Publisher Isabel Reed receives an anonymous manuscript called The Accident that is full of secrets and sends everyone into a tizzy. There is a CIA agent that is determined to bury the story and the author himself is hiding in Zurich watching everything unfold. The entire plot occurs over ONE SINGLE DAY.

For me, this book was verrrrrrry slow (and you know when I use extra letters in something, I really mean it!). I didn’t get sucked in right away like I thought I would and that really disappointed me. The characters were very intriguing but I couldn’t connect with them, and with the CIA/spy/thriller plot I thought it’d be a 5 star review from me, but it just let me down. I didn’t realize how much killing there would be or how often it would happen, and even though it felt slow to read it was gogogogo the entire time. It felt very chaotic to me. I think that if I was older, around the same age as the characters (40s) then I would have liked it a lot more because this is the type of book I’m drawn to, but I just didn’t. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I don’t really recommend it to anyone, except maybe my mother in law who is around the same age and might find it interesting.

kiesha

Full disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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