Friday, September 29, 2017

Review: The Names of Dead Girls by Eric Rickstad (audio)

Title: The Names of Dead Girls
Author: Eric Rickstad
Series: Canaan Crime, #3
Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer
Published: September 2017, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 9 hours 11 minutes / 434 pages
Source:  Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via William Morrow Paperbacks

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Eric Rickstad delivers the electrifying sequel to The Silent Girls, and features once again detectives Frank Rath and Sonja Test as they track a depraved killer through rural Vermont.

Every murder tells a story. Some stories never end . . .

In a remote northern Vermont town, college student Rachel Rath is being watched. She can feel the stranger’s eyes on her, relentless and possessive. And she’s sure the man watching her is the same man who killed her mother and father years ago: Ned Preacher, a serial rapist and murderer who gamed the system to get a light sentence. Now, he’s free.

Detective Frank Rath adopted Rachel, his niece, after the shocking murder of her parents when she was a baby. Ever since, Rath’s tried to protect her from the true story of her parents’ deaths. But now Preacher is calling Rath to torment him. He’s threatening Rachel and plotting cruelties for her, of the flesh and of the mind. When other girls are found brutally murdered, and a woman goes missing, Rath and Detective Sonja Test must untangle the threads that tie these new crimes and some long-ago nightmares together. Soon they will learn that the truth is more perverse than anyone could guess, rife with secrets, cruel desires, and warped, deadly loyalty.

Mesmerizing, startling, and intricately plotted, The Names of Dead Girls builds relentlessly on its spellbinding premise, luring readers into its dark and macabre mystery, right to its shocking end.

My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Eric Rickstad and the third book in what is now being called the Canaan Crime series and while I didn't read the first book, Lie in Wait, I will be doing so soon! But from what I understand, it's not as connected as books 2 and 3, the two books I've just devoured...yes DEVOURED!!! These books are addictive thrillers that kept me totally captivated from start to finish.

But before I go any further with my review of The Names of Dead Girls...I highly suggest if you have any plans of reading The Silent that one first. First, this latest book picks up almost immediately where the prior book leaves off and second, it contains some spoilers about the prior book. So considered yourself warned.

This latest book in this series takes off with a bang. It's every bit as twisted, haunting and dark as the one before and kept me completely hooked from start to finish! What I find so appealing about these books is the writing - between the short chapters that just beg you to keep going, to the writing itself that is both chilling and gritty, to the use of the atmosphere - this time the fog that sets in around the small town of Vermont, adding that sense of gloom and doom. It just amps up an already tense and suspenseful situation.

What I loved about this installment is that we see a little more of Rachel, Frank Rath's daughter. She is quite central to this story, rather than a side character as she was in the previous book. She's a college student and has the feeling she's being watched. She's also determined to find out exactly what happened to her parents - now that she knows the story Rath has been telling her her whole life is just that - a story. 

There's also a bit of character development that happens in this installment and I'm curious to see how this plays out moving forward. For Frank, he's been reinstated as Senior Detective as the police, much to his dismay. I loved his argument with the chief for not taking the position at first - he doesn't like structure, he like's working in his pajamas if he see's fit and he doesn't like paperwork. I don't necessarily disagree with him on any of these points! For Detective Sonja Test, we see a lot more of her and her family, and there might be some changes in her life - either professionally or personally, so I'm eager to see where that goes.

What makes this book such an exciting read is that there is a mix of old crimes and new, and they seem to be intertwined. A serial killer is on the loose and there is a stalker hanging about, focusing their energy on Rachel...are they one and the same or are there two separate entities at work here? This book kept me on my toes, trying to put the pieces together and boy oh boy was I in for a shock when I got to the end!

There are quite a few twists and turns and yet, while we do get the answers to most of the questions, not everything is resolved. Hopefully these will be solved in the next book, or somewhere down the line in this series, right? All I can say for sure, is that I am loving these books, and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. In the meantime, I will be picking up the first one, which focuses primarily on Detective Sonja Test...and I cannot wait to get to that one. Have you picked these books up yet? Be warned...they are highly addictive and fast-paced, and oh-so good!!!


Audio thoughts: Jeffrey Kafer is a new-to-me narrator and I thought he did a good job with this audio production. His pacing and tone were spot on and he did a good job of adding just the right amount of tension and suspense to his voice as needed. 

While this wasn't the same narrator as the previous book, I'm ok with that. I'm not sure what to expect with the next book in the series...and I know that the first book, which focuses mainly on Detective Sonja Test, is narrated by a female. So, having different narrators for this series just seems to be what it is for this series. Could this book and the previous book have had the same narrator, since a big part of both these books focus on Frank Rath, sure...but for whatever reason, the powers that be, switched narrators. Oh well!

Books in this series:
  1. Lie in Wait
  2. The Silent Girls
  3. The Names of Dead Girls
  4. ???


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (audio)

Title: The Cottingley Secret
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Narrator: Karen Cass, Billie Fullford-Brown
Published: August 2017, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 11 hours 2 minutes / 416 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Hazel Gaynor's books - I just love getting lost in her books and that is exactly what I find when I pick one up...I am completely immersed in her stories. This latest one was so magical it was easy to get caught up in the characters and setting - and I loved it!

I have to admit, I did not know anything about the Cottingley Fairies prior to reading this book, but I loved the way Hazel Gaynor was able to weave fact with fiction in this enchanting tale. Using a dual narrative she is able to tell a compelling story involving engaging characters that will endear themselves to you.

The characters in this book are so well-drawn. There are times when you are drawn more to one story line than the other, but in this case, I was equally entranced with both. I found the idea of being left a bookstore to be so heavenly - what book lover wouldn't? And Olivia is just the person to bring this old bookstore back to life. Of course, Elsie and Frances's tale is just as captivating. Who would have thought that two little girls, bored and just trying to have a little fun would have caught the attention of a war-torn country and brought a little joy in a time it was so desperately wanted.

But what I love about these types of books, and this one in particular, is the way the story lines intertwine. You are never quite sure how it will happen, and yet you know at some point they are going to. This is what I love about these books...when the secrets and the connections start to reveal themselves. And the way that connection is made here is just brilliant. I loved it!!!

This book has just the right amount of history and whimsical magic to make it a reading pleasure. It has so many different themes running through it from memories lost and found, to believing in oneself to even believing in magic and the wonder of the world around us. It is truly an enchanting read. And but sure to read the author's note - it contains some of Hazel's notes and even photos - great stuff!!!

Audio thoughts: Both of these narrators are new to me, but I thought they each did a great job bringing this story to life! I really enjoyed listening to this story on audio - as I have with each of Hazel Gaynor's books I've read - something about her books just seems to translate well into an audio experience and this one, coupled with these two narrators makes for a really good experience! The accents seemed to be genuine and the pacing throughout was just right. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Title: Lies She Told 
Author: Cate Holahan
Published: September 2017, Crooked Lane Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 288 pages
Source: Netgalley
From the author of the USA Today bestselling novel, The Widower’s Wife, comes an electrifying story of love and deceit.

The truth can be darker than fiction.

Liza Cole, a once-successful novelist whose career has seen better days, has one month to write the thriller that could land her back on the bestseller list. Meanwhile, she’s struggling to start a family, but her husband is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. As stresses weigh her down in her professional and personal lives, Liza escapes into writing the chilling exploits of her latest heroine, Beth.

Beth, a new mother, suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she aims to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes what she’s doing, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.

Then, the lines between Liza’s fiction and her reality eerily blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the East River, and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including her own. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Cate Holahan, and let me tell you - it certainly won't be the last! This book is twisted, crazy and kept me frantically flipping the pages. This is a great psychological thriller/mystery that really blurs the lines between truth and fiction - that whole concept of book within a book comes into play here and I loved it!!!

I have to admit - I went into this book thinking it was going to be one thing but it turned out to be way more complicated and involved. The story is very cleverly crafted - having it alternate between Liza, the writer who is desperately trying to get her next book written and Beth, the heroine in Liza's story. It's a little confusing at first to understand that you are reading what is supposed to be real life (Liza's chapters) and then chapter's in Liza's book (Beth's chapters), but once you get a little bit into the book, it moves back and forth quite seamlessly and I actually found myself enjoying both parts of this book.

But this is also where it gets very tricky - we see what is happening in Liza's book start to mirror what is happening in her real life. Is she doing this on purpose or is she not realizing this? This is where things start to get a little confusing and where you start to get chills as you are reading. 

The characters are so vivid and flawed that you can't help but want more of them - even those that are part of the book within the book! And while the pace is slow at first, it ramps up in the second half of the book to a crazy finish. I'm telling you, this is a book that you will not stop thinking about once you start reading it and even long after you finish it.

Every time I thought I had things figured out, the author throws a curve ball at us and the lines between truth and fiction - the real story of Liza's world and her book -  were blurring. I'm telling you, this book really kept me on edge. While I did figure out parts of the mystery, it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book - I wanted to know how it all transpired, and boy was it good! This is actually one of those books that I think is worthy of a reread now that I know the ending - can I see from the start how it plays out? Either way, I definitely know one thing - I will absolutely be reading more of this author!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

Title: The Blackbird Season
Author: Kate Moretti
Published: September 2017, Atria Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 304 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

My thoughts: After reading Kate Moretti's last book, The Vanishing Year, I knew I had found an author I would keep reading. Her psychological thrillers have just that little something extra to set them apart - and believe me when I say you won't be able to think of anything else once you start reading them. I was completely entranced with this one and couldn't put it down until I finished it!

This book is chilling and haunting and I think what truly sets it apart is the way it's told. Being narrated by four different points of view and moving back and forth in time - all from the point of reference of when the birds fell - it's eerie to say the least! There are so many things going on that it will make your head spin, but at the same time, it totally sucks you in.

Between the birds falling out of the sky and the scandal between the student and teacher, it's hard to know what is really going on. What caused the thousands of birds to fall dead from the sky? Did Nate really have an affair with his student? This book takes on these questions and so much more. It tackles the bonds of a marriage and just how far a couple is willing to trust the other. It tackles friendship and the limits one friend is willing to go for another friend. It also tackles community bonds and just how strong those alliances actually are.

As the book progresses, I found my opinion on Nate's innocence changing. With each bit of new information given, oftentimes by the other narrators, this change would occur. But it was also the change of narrators that added so much life to this book. So much character development happens, yet we also see just how complex the relationships are amongst the different characters. And it is the different points of view that allow this to happen - we find out a lot about Nate from the other narrators.

I loved that the ending isn't quite what you would expect...I was really thrown by it and loved that I didn't see it coming. This book is full of surprises - both good and bad, and it kept me captivated from start to finish! I found it to be a good, slow-burning mystery and cannot wait to see what comes next from this talented author!!!


Review: The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase (audio)

Title: The Wildling Sisters
Author: Eve Chase
Narrator: Clare Corbett, Emilia Fox
Published: July 2017, Penguin Audio
Length: 10 hours 46 minutes
Source: Library

Four sisters. One summer. A lifetime of secrets.

When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.

Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.

My thoughts: Ever since reading and loving Eve Chase's debut novel, Black Rabbit Hall, I knew I would be picking up more books by this author. So of course as soon as I saw she had another one out, I put it on reserve at the library - I just love that my library had it!!!

This was another great haunting mystery with gothic undertones to it. I loved the dual narrative used, though I have to admit that this time around, I was a little more invested in the past story line than I was in the present - sometimes that happens! It's told in the 1950s and in the present and for some reason I just felt more drawn to the four sisters' story in the past than Jesse's story in the present. Though, I do feel that the two story lines do link up quite nicely in the end and that doesn't always happen.

This book is ultimately about the bonds of sisterhood and family and is set against a house that has seen it's share of secrets. What truly kept me hooked, though, is the writing. This is where this book shines. There's the sense of intrigue that builds up, with just the hint of foreboding that keeps you on your toes, wanting to know what's going to happen next. The characters are interesting and well-drawn, and even the house itself becomes a character in it's own right. 

Eve Chase is definitely going down as a favorite author of good gothic mysteries and I will be looking forward to seeing what comes next from her. I liked this one, though I do have to say, I think Black Rabbit Hall is still my favorite!

Audio thoughts:
I thought the audio production of this book was well done. I've listened to Clare Corbett before, but Emilia Fox is new to me. I enjoyed each of the narrator's sections and thought they did a great job portraying their characters. This was a good book to listen to - it had that haunting, mysterious element to it that came across in the audio production.  


Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Working Fire by Emily Bleeker

Title: Working Fire
Author: Emily Bleeker
Published: August 2017, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher
From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of When I’m Gone comes a compelling novel of a bond between sisters, tested by tragedy…

Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie.

My thoughts: Emily Bleeker is a new author for me and I knew as soon as I heard about this book that it was something I wanted to read. Not only did I enjoy it, but now I have another author that I can add to my ever-growing list of authors to select from!

I loved the way this story is told - alternating between the two sisters, Ellie in the present day as she gets the call about the shooting and then by Amelia starting five weeks prior. It's eerie and it's chilling as you work to desperately put the pieces together alongside both characters to figure out just what is really going on. 

As much as there is a mystery to this book - why were Amelia and her husband shot - there is so much more to this book than just this. It's so much deeper and this, to me, is what really laid the foundation to this book. It's about family and the relationships that this family is built upon. And of course, it's a book that is layered with secrets - that's really what is driving a lot of the action in this book. But, then again, when it comes to family, isn't that what is behind most of the drama in any family?

The characters and the relationships that we see are so richly drawn. I felt that I had a very good idea of who each sister was and what they stood for. Having each sister tell their own side of the story really allows us to get inside their head - see their side of things and understand how things are from their perspectives. 

The story is intense and keeps you invested as the pieces start to fall into place, though not necessarily where you might think they would. It's a tightly wound story that has quite an unexpected ending and I wonder if there is any possibility of a sequel? I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading more from this author.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer

Title: The Missing Girls
Author: Carol Wyer
Series: DI Robyn Carter, #3
Published: September 2017, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-book, 392 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

One girl found dead. Another girl gone...

Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever...

When, a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer.

No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial killer.

As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.

Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

An utterly gripping and darkly compelling detective thriller that will have fans of Robert Dugoni, Angela Marsons and James Patterson hooked from the very start. You will not guess the ending!

My thoughts: This is the third book in Carol Wyer's DI Robyn Carter series and I have to say this series just gets better and better. Not only do the cases get more and more intriguing, but the character development is top notch!

Once again this book opens with a scene that grabs you and the book never really lets keeps your attention all the way through as Robyn Carter and her team work non-stop to get to the bottom of what is going on. She believes there is a serial killer preying on young girls and will stop at nothing to prevent another girl from falling victim, especially when she realizes the next girl is someone close to her. Of course, this means going up against her superior and fighting for all the resources and manpower she needs - but she's willing to do all she can to get the person behind this...but can she put all the clues together in time?

As much as I love the gritty side of the case, I love the people side, too. I love getting to know the characters that make up the series and that's where this series excels. We see a new side to Robyn's supposed arch-nemesis DI Tom Shearer - he is quite pleasant to Robyn on numerous times and I'm curious to see what that is all about moving forward! There is also a romance brewing for two of the team members and I think it is quite sweet...while this hasn't been made official, it was hinted at and I hope it works out...I guess time will tell.

This book is fast-paced with lots of twists and turns that keep you glued to the pages. The use of social media and cyber-bullying added a new dimension to the case and put it in today's world. And I love the way Ross, Robyn's cousin, is integrated into the a private investigator, his insight into the cases is always on the periphery, but he always has much to add, at just the right time.

This series is one of my favorites, and while I have really enjoyed all the books up to this point, I have to say, this one surely has the best ending only because of the major curveball it threw. On the one hand, given all the reminiscing that Robyn had done throughout the book, it sort of makes sense...but on the other...are you kidding me??? I desperately need to get my hands on that Book 4 ASAP to get to the bottom of that. I need to get answers NOW!!! 

Books in this series: 

  1. Little Girl Lost
  2. Secrets of the Dead 
  3. The Missing Girls 
  4. The Silent Children - out December 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: The Summer that Made Us by Robyn Carr (audio)

Title: The Summer That Made Us
Author: Robyn Carr
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: September 2017, Recorded Books / Mira Books
Length: 10 hours 21 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Little Bird Publicity
Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins--they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.  

That was then... For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.  

This is now... After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. 

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

My thoughts:  I have been a fan of Robyn Carr's books for a while now - both for her series and her stand alones - so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read and review her latest book. This one, a stand alone, is poignant and inspiring yet has it's moments of humor interspersed throughout. 

I think what truly stands out about this book is just how emotional it ended up being. Yes, it had it's funny moments, but at the end of the day, it really has some big highs and some big lows - equally balanced, but still - it has all the feels! This is what women's fiction is. And more importantly, it will have you questioning the relationships you have in your life and if there are any you need to work on.

This book is all about second chances. The Hempstead family is dysfunctional to say the least. There was a tradegy that could be the impetus for some of this dysfunction, but why the grudges have carried on for so long is anyone's guess. Now, almost 30 years later and fighting the fight of her life, Megan has decided enough is enough and her family needs to come together one more time. Can the past be let go off? Is there room in everyone's hearts for forgiveness?

I loved getting to know the characters in this book. As each of the women return to the lake and share their stories, I felt as if I was there, living at the lake with them. The story really comes to life as the stories are told. It's not always a happy tale, as the secrets start coming out, and heartache and grief are brought to the surface, but through tears and sadness, these women find a way to become a family again, especially as they are needed now more than ever. 

This was a great read and this is why I continue to pick up Robyn Carr's books. They are filled with substance rather than just fluff. This one in particular is as heartwarming as it is emotional.

Audio thoughts: I am never disappointed when I see Therese Plummer as a narrator, especially when I see that she's narrating a Robyn Carr book. These two just seem to go together - really well! The characters really come to life in this narration and Therese really does a great job giving each character their own unique voice. Her pacing and tone are spot on and she infused just the right amount of emotion into her voice as needed. This really was a great audio.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Title: Best Day Ever
Author: Kaira Rouda
Published: September 2017, Graydon House
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher
I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

My thoughts: I'm a big fan of Kaira Rouda's books and had the absolute pleasure of meeting her in person this past Spring at BookExpo when she was signing early copies of this latest book. I love when I get to meet my favorite authors and she is absolutely delightful - I even got a chance to talk with her after her signing later on that day and loved that. She is so down to earth and I had a great time talking with her.

This is such a creepy, sinister read...and it totally had me captivated from the start. It takes place over a 24-hour period and once you start reading it, you will be hard-pressed to put it down. You are taken down a wildly unbelievable, yet scary ride as you delve into the world that Paul Strom has created for himself...and what a world it is - in his head! He is quite a character - one I won't be forgetting any time soon and not necessarily for good reasons.

What I loved about this book is the over-the-top craziness of it's main character, Paul. He is narcissistic and controlling for sure, yet there is something equally sinister about him that lies just beneath the surface. He is the book's sole narrator and as he drones on and on about the "best day ever" he has planned, he hints ever so vaguely that there is more going on if you just pay attention to what he is not saying. It's creepy and it's addictive because the more you read, the more you need to know what's going to happen and what it is he's really up to!

And what happens when his wife, Mia, questions him? Brings up topics that he'd rather not discuss? Could she possibly know what he's up to? Mia has always done as he's asked - she gave up her job when they started a family, she basically gave up her friends and now all of a sudden she's grown a backbone? Does she know more than she's letting on?

Kaira Rouda has really done a fantastic job of allowing us to get into the mind of a sociopath. It's certainly not a place I expected to be when I picked up this book, but boy was I glued to the pages once I started reading. Just goes to show that you never truly know what goes on behind closed doors. I really enjoyed this book and the cover is just perfect!!!

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