The Last Act by Brad Parks: Book Review

The Last Act by Brad Parks
Published March 12, 2019 by Dutton Books
384 Pages

From Publisher: Struggling stage actor Tommy Jump is offered the role of a lifetime: $150,000 for a six-month acting gig. With a newly pregnant fiancee depending on him, it’s an opportunity he can’t refuse, even though the offer comes from the strangest employer imaginable: the FBI.

My Thoughts: When I saw the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it. I can’t seem to resist book descriptions with buzzwords like FBI, undercover, prison, the cartels, money laundering etc. Sign me up! The great news: Brad Parks delivered a cinematic, action filled story I couldn’t put down.

Tommy Jump is offered an acting deal he feels he can’t pass up. The FBI want him to go undercover in a low security prison to make contact with Mitchell Dupree, a banker who has been convicted of laundering millions for the New Colima cartel and who supposedly still has one ace in the hole that could take that cartel down. Problem is: he’s not about to give it to the FBI. I have to say, I really liked Tommy right from the start. He seemed feisty, level headed and intelligent but at the same time, he was letting the idea of all that money cloud his judgment because he forgot how these things usually go…if a deal like this one seems too good to be true…it probably is.

Parks sets up the opening scenes and Tommy’s arrival in prison brilliantly. I’m super picky when it comes to details in thrillers. I like things to be fast paced and tension filled but I also want it realistic with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed and this story was all that and more. With short chapters, a breakneck pace, and dialogue that was so spot on that I could picture this perfectly in my head as a movie, I finished this in a day. I really hope the film rights for this have been snatched up!

 

**More exciting News**  Brad Park’s novel Closer Than You Know (March 2018) is available today in Paperback!!

Thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

Mini Review Tuesday: Never Tell, Stalker & The Last Romantics

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts these past couple weeks. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with the blog as well as social media and reading on top of life! It’s a lot and I’m trying to figure out what the best platform is for me to share my reviews and still be able to connect and interact with other readers which has been my main purpose all along. Lately, I’m finding that it’s super fast for me to get a review posted quickly on my Instagram which you can find (here). and/or my Goodreads (here).  I’m regularly posting my current reads on both as well as quick thoughts and book recommendations in my Instagram stories. I tend to post all my audiobook recommendations there right as I’m listening to them. All this is to say, if you aren’t seeing posts from me here as regularly as before and you’re interested in what I’m reading and reviewing, try those platforms – I hope you’ll follow me at one or both! Now, on to some amazing reads…

 

Never Tell  by Lisa Gardner
Published: Feb 19 by Dutton
419 Pages

From Publisher: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

My Thoughts: Friends, Lisa Gardner just keeps getting better and better. I’ve been a loyal reader of her DD Warren series for years but I’ve also read every standalone book she’s ever wrote and I have to say, there’s NO author out there writing at this high a level book after book. Never Tell has continuing characters DD Warren, her husband Alex, partners Phil and Neil and her new protege/confidential informant Flora Dane. Despite this being part of a series, I do think you could read this as a standalone and be perfectly happy. 

The story is told in alternating perspectives from Flora, DD, and Evie. Evie starts off the story when she enters her home and finds her husband shot to death and she proceeds to take the gun. Why? You’ll have to read because that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. DD is the investigating detective and she enlists Flora’s help. Flora’s perspective gives us a much more in depth look at her past time with her kidnapper Jacob Ness and we get to understand so much more about why she is the way she is. The pace is fast, the chapters short, and the plot intricate. There are webs upon webs upon webs to be untangled and deciphered and I loved every minute of trying…to no avail. This one’s so well plotted my advice is just sit back and enjoy the read. If you enjoy thrillers with intricately plotted mysteries this book’s for you! You really can’t go wrong with any of Lisa’s books but a few of my past favorites are Gone, Love You More, The Perfect Husband and Catch Me

Thanks to Dutton via Netgalley for my copy

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Stalker  by Lars Kepler
Published Feb 5, 2019 by Knopf
560 Pages
From Publisher: Detective Joona Linna — recently returned from compassionate leave — reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable sadistic killer.
My Thoughts: This was such a fantastic thriller! The opening scenes are chilling to say the least. Someone is stalking women from afar, video taping them as they go about their lives in their homes and then sending the video to police minutes before the each woman is murdered. Needless to say, the police don’t have time to figure out who the women are before they’re killed. This storyline runs parallel to another involving Joona Linna, the main detective from the series. Joona is not at his best but he’s called in to assist the new detective in charge, Margot, who’s very pregnant and very dedicated to stopping this killer. Joona also reconnects with his friend, the hypnotist Erik, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Everything about this story worked for me, the pace was excellent, the characterization strong, and the mystery a top notch whodunit. I didn’t have it figured out that’s for sure. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!
Thanks to Knopf via Netgalley for my copy
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The Last Romantics  by Tara Conklin
Published Feb 5, 2019 by William Morrow
368 Pages

From Publisher: When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

My Thoughts: I really loved this book! This family saga that centered on 4 siblings who were left to fend for themselves during what they called “the pause” after their father dies and their mother retreats to her bedroom for several years was so well written. We follow siblings Renee, Joe, Caroline and Fiona from childhood through old age which gave me the feeling that I truly knew these characters as real people. I love stories set over decades!

I flew through the first half, finding Fiona’s narration interesting yet with a melancholy flow. I did find that the middle dragged for me with a few too many shifts in time and perspectives that felt abrupt at times. The final third was fantastic and left me in tears. Ultimately, this story was, for me, a meditation on love, despair, resilience, family, and forgiveness.

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy 

Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz: Book Review

 

Out of the Dark By Gregg Hurwitz
Published: Jan 29, 2019 by Minotaur Books
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man, a man who helps the truly desperate when no one else can. But now, someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers

My Thoughts: If I’m ever in trouble, I hope someone calls Evan Smoak for me! Orphan X is back in the 4th installment of this fast paced, fun thriller series and he’s going after his most hated opponent yet, the President of the United States. The prologue shows us a very interesting scene in Russia in which Evan is out on his first solo mission as a trained assassin for a dark black ops program the US government formed.  I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of Evan as a young man because, cut to current day, he’s now in what I guess to be his late 30s and he’s no longer in the program. He now spends his days being The Nowhere Man, carrying out his own brand of vigilante justice for those who call his super secret line and are in dire need of help. The two storylines run parallel to each other and the author pulls them off brilliantly.

While Evan is doing some serious scouting of the President’s agendas, day to day security details, life in and outside The White House , etc we are privy to some fascinating details about the life of The President which I’m assuming are true (at least most) and which seem very thoroughly researched. This was one of my favorite parts of the book actually! While Evan is deciding on his best course of action to assassinate the President, the President has called in Evan’s arch rival, Orphan A, to kill Evan. It’s all very cut throat, fast paced, and tension filled.

Along with these 2 main storylines, we also have Evan’s ongoing romantic involvement with his neighbor, single mom and prosecutor Mia, who, accurately enough, suspects that Evan isn’t living the most law abiding lifestyle (she has no idea how right she is) so she won’t allow herself or her son to become too invested in him. I love how Hurwitz has weaved this thread of Mia and Evan throughout all 4 books.

If this sounds like a lot going on in one book, it is but it all works. I’ve said it before, the Orphan X novels remind me of the Jason Bourne movies so if you like that type of fast paced, action filled thriller with a very smart good guy to root for, who let’s face it, seemingly can’t be killed and almost never sleeps, this is for you. Do you have to suspend disbelief in parts? Of course, but who cares because this story and these characters are just so well done.

I will say, I highly recommend starting with book 1, Orphan X, in order to get the full backstory of these characters but if you choose to start here, Hurwitz does a great job of providing just enough info about important events from the previous books so you won’t feel completely lost. If you’re in the mood for an action packed thriller, you can’t go wrong with this series and good news…. I read that there will be 3 more Orphan X books in the future so you have plenty of time to catch up!

Thanks to Minotaur Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

No Exit by Taylor Adams: Book Review

No Exit  by Taylor Adams
Publication: Jan 15, 2019 By William Morrow
352 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy On Amazon

From Publisher: A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath. A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

My Thoughts: Oh boy, this is an interesting review for me to write. On the one hand, I read this in a day, so the pace was on point. On the other hand, I had many issues with plot holes and inconsistencies. What does that mean? Basically, if you are someone (like me) who gets hung up on illogical plot details, character inconsistencies, and a few plot holes, you might have similar issues with this book.

Darby Thorne is a sophomore in college in Colorado when she gets a dire text from her sister about her mom having pancreatic cancer and going in for surgery the next day. This is the first Darby is hearing about her mom being ill because they had a falling out and she hasn’t spoken to her in quite awhile. On the spur of the moment, she decides to get in her beat up OLD Honda Civic and drive hours through the mountains to Utah to get there for her mom’s surgery. Her pressing goal…beat the blizzard that’s barreling toward those very mountains she’s going to be driving through. Hours into her drive, she finds herself immersed in the blizzard which (not surprisingly) is no match for her old Civic and it’s not long before the snow is piling up and she is forced to pull off at a nearby rest stop. It’s here that she parks, goes in to find 4 other stranded strangers, and we find out that not only is there no cell reception, but NO ONE has an iPhone charger!? What?!! Here’s my first issue…(in my opinion) most people, especially college students would never go on a long road trip and not bring a phone charger. At the very least you’d stop and buy one.

The strangers she encounters seem ok although one guy appears a little weird but Darby doesn’t waste too much time interacting with them before she sets off outside, trudging though waist deep snow (in jeans & converse sneakers mind you) in search of a spot to get cell reception. Finding none, she circles back through the parking lot and what she sees or thinks she sees sends her world into a tailspin.  From here the pace is frantic, the tension high, as she works to figure out what she should do next.

Despite my many issues with this one, I did like it and read it in one sitting so there was that addictive, must find out what happens next quality to this story. Other things to note: the violence can be particularly gory at times which didn’t bother me but might others. I would say if you’re looking for a fast paced, wintry thriller give this a try. Then please email or direct message me so we can discuss!!

Thanks to William Morrow via Edelweiss for my copy 

 

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger: book review

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Published July 3, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
341 Pages
Affiliate Link : Buy From Amazon

From PublisherOn an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind. Ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau is engaged to Grant Ellis whose father is set to run for President of the US. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home…

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I’ll admit, when I first came across this title I assumed it was another domestic psychological “wife” thriller (although one with a great cover). The Banker’s Wife , however, was not at all what I expected. I knew from the opening scene in the London airport that this financial thriller was not only going to keep me on my toes, but it had such an international flair and hint of conspiracy and secrets to come that I couldn’t wait to find out more. 

We first meet Marina, an investigative journalist for Press magazine, whose fiancé’s father is close to securing the bid for the next US Presidential election. Although she’s been contemplating quitting the further immersed she gets in the upper echelon of New York society, she’s enticed by her editor to help gather secret evidence from a source in Paris. What follows propels Marina into an investigation of a top Swiss Bank, Swiss United, which may or may not have close US ties. From there we get to be flies on the wall, immersed in the secrets and scandals that cross the globe.

The story alternates perspectives between Marina and Annabel, whose husband Matthew is missing after his plane goes down in the Swiss Alps. Matthew is a banking executive with Swiss United (can you start to see the threads?) and it’s not long before Annabel is questioning not only what happened to her husband’s plane but also if she really knew her husband. 

I was equally invested in both these smart, sophisticated, take control women and the way Alger structured the novel, with lightening paced chapters that combined phenomenal dialogue with increasing tension, was just brilliant. Seriously, I felt like I was watching a movie while reading this book, if that makes sense? It is one of the most cinematic, globe trotting novels I’ve ever read, taking us to Switzerland, Paris, London, and New York.  I could picture each place and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how all the little threads were connected…or not. Some advice though, this is a close reading type of story where details can be missed, especially in the second half where a few more characters were introduced. I had to really pay attention so as to not feel confused. I highly recommend this intelligent, tightly plotted thriller if you’re looking for something original and fast paced. 

Many thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

REVIEW: THE CHALK MAN By C.J. Tudor

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Publication date: Jan 9, 2018 By Crown Publishing

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

 

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This classic storyline concept of childhood friends, a murder, lies and then unearthed secrets many years later started off fairly strong for me. I love the setting of the small town English village and the time frame of the late 1980s. The tidbits of nostalgia from the 80s were actually one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

The story is told in alternating timeframes, shifting back and forth from the kids’ childhoods in 1986 to 2016 when they’re all living very different lives. I have to say I found the present storyline more engaging than the past but overall I didn’t enjoy the alternating timeframes structure. I felt like just when I was immersed in the present and trying to build connections with the characters, the chapters would end abruptly leaving me feeling disconnected.  I appreciate that the author was trying to build suspense with cliffhanger chapter endings and an abrupt time change but it left me feeling frustrated.

In terms of the characters, I found Eddie to be very odd and hard to connect with; in fact, I didn’t really connect with any characters which made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I did find the pace to be steady and I didn’t have the mystery figured out but I also didn’t have a compelling urge to try all that hard to decipher the clues. When I reached the end my first thought was that the reveal was underwhelming and my next thought was that something that we find out about Eddie made no sense whatsoever. I absolutely know others are loving this mystery so take my review as just one opinion and try this for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of alternating timeframes and mysteries set in the 1980s.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing via Netgalley for my copy

A 2018 REVIEW: FORCE OF NATURE By Jane Harper

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Publication Date: Feb 6th, 2018 by Flatiron Books

Short Summary: Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Did she purposely disappearance or was it murder? Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

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You may remember that this book was recently one I featured as one of my most anticipated sequels of 2018. I’m starting to dip into some of my 2018 reads and this was just calling to me. I loved The Dry and couldn’t wait to catch up with Aaron Falk. I did, however, read a couple reviews that weren’t all that favorable so I was anxious to see if I agreed with them or not…

The story basically centers around two groups (a men’s and a women’s) employed by the same company who’re sent on a professional team building retreat. The retreat consists of 3 days and nights of hiking and camping in a fairly remote wooded range in Australia. We find out right away that only 4 of the women return and when they do they are hours late and look much worse for the wear. So, the immediate question is…what’s happened to Alice?  Regarding the plot, the narrative structure, and the characters involved there honestly wasn’t that much that worked for me and it’s disappointing because I expected to love this.

What worked…

  • The descriptive details for the setting. Jane Harper can write wonderful setting details. While I didn’t find this to be as atmospheric as The Dry, I did feel like I was there in the woods with the cold and rain and darkness
  • The short chapters created a very fast reading pace and I was able to read this in one sitting
  • Aaron Falk. There’s something about this character that I really like. He’s somewhat of an enigma but just seems like a really good guy. I just wish the author would’ve done more with him in this story. To me, it seemed like he was an after thought and his character didn’t seem to evolve too much in this book.

What didn’t work….

  • The entire plot premise that a professional team building company would send inexperienced hikers out with no phones, no walkie talkies, no flares, no emergency provisions whatsoever and then never check to ensure they reached each campsite just made no sense to me and tarnished my ability to believe the story.
  • The characters. I felt the group of women were not only unlikeable but also thinly drawn. There were times I couldn’t remember who was who, they didn’t seem to be all that individualistic. And I found hard to care about any of them
  • The structure of the narrative. The story is told in present time from Aaron’s perspective as they are investigating and alternates with flashbacks of each day of the women’s journey. This seemed odd to me because we already know what happens so it often seemed unnecessary to retell some parts. For me, opening the book with the ending took away quite a bit of suspense.
  • The mystery. I found it to be pretty underwhelming and the red herrings were too obvious in my opinion.

Unfortunately, there was more that didn’t work for me than did in this story and I’m bummed about that because I think Jane Harper is a very talented writer. Maybe it was a case of rushing the second book as others have speculated, I’m not sure. I did enjoy seeing a little spark with Aaron at the end and I will definitely still give the next book in the series a try because I want to see what she does with Aaron’s character moving forward. If you haven’t read The Dry, I do highly recommend that one!

Many thanks to Flatiron Books for my copy

 

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My Pick This week is….

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Published March 10, 2016 by Avon

You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’re wrong…
The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.
Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.
As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.
But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.
And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

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I would never have picked this up based on the cover and title, neither are appealing to me. However, when my friend Annie at The Misstery suggested I give this detective series a try I immediately headed to the library to see if it was available. The murder mystery aspect of the story begins immediately with the killing of the head teacher of the school and from then on out, the bodies steadily keep dropping. All were killed by different means but all were given a warning that their time had come. Questions linger as to why and what, if anything, all these seemingly random people have in common?

Enter the detectives, DS Grey and DS Miles, two likable detectives who have obvious baggage from their pasts. I really really liked DS Miles, he was flawed but you could just tell he was a good guy. I also liked DS Grey and boy had she suffered some serious injuries in her past, not only physically but emotionally as well. I liked the respect and friendship these two had for each other as well as their intelligence in piecing together the puzzle. Speaking of puzzle, there are many subthreads to this story and while I did have the “who” figured out I didn’t have the “why” so I was happy about that. One very big word of warning for this book which is also at the bottom of the blurb on Goodreads….it’s most definitely NOT for the faint hearted! This is an overall dark themed book. The murders were gruesome, there were discussions of past abuse and torture…these were not images I particularly liked having in my head and reminded me of some of Karin Slaughter’s novels. Tough stuff. If you know that going in you’ll be better prepared. The best part of this book, for me, were the two detectives and the puzzle so if you’re looking for a new detective series why not give this one a try.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Diana at A Haven for Booklovers

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

REVIEW: THE CHILD FINDER By Rene Denfeld

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Published Sept 5th by Harper

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

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Just when I think there’s no possible way to tell a missing child story in an original, creative way…in my opinion, the market is kind of saturated with this concept… along comes this luminously written book by Rene Denfeld and just like that I’m a believer again. I don’t typically toss out words like luminous when talking about a mystery, in fact, I don’t think I’ve used that adjective to describe any book I’ve read this year but that word absolutely describes how I felt about this story and Denfeld’s writing. There’s something magical at work here and I’m hardly likely to do this book justice with this review.

From the opening page I was drawn into the world of Naomi, a dedicated, bordering on obsessed child finder, who’s come back to her home state of Oregon to search for Madison, a little girl who’s been missing for three years. Madison and her parents had drove to the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree and in the blink of an eye a blizzard was upon them and Madison had vanished. Naomi is the last resort for Madison’s parents as she has been for so many others and she combines her skills as an investigator with her own life experience of knowing what it feels like to be found. You see, Naomi has a past very similar to those of the children she tries to find, only her memories of the early years of her life are very limited.

The plot flows and evolves brilliantly with the use of alternating POVs of Naomi and “The Snow Child” as well as thankfully short ones from Mr. B…you’ll have to read to find out who he is! It’s very hard for me to put into concise words everything I loved about this story and the writing. The way Denfeld paints a picture with words… of the forest and snow,  the fascinating use of imagination to survive, the intense feelings of hope and despair, the longing to belong and experience love when pain and fear have been so prominent…it all weaved together to create images that were seared in my mind. She created an almost dreamlike quality with her writing that enabled me to get through what I will say were some tough aspects of this story as far as abuse, neglect, and child trauma goes. At no time, however, was any aspect “in your face” or gratuitous;  rather, it was an element of the story that couldn’t be avoided.

All this being said, this is a wonderful and unique part mystery, part thriller, character driven novel that I couldn’t put down. I loved how the author handled the ending and I have to say, my fingers are tightly crossed that we haven’t seen the last of Naomi! In the meantime, I’ll be grabbing a copy of Denfeld’s first book, Enchanted, as fast as I can.

MINI-REVIEWS: CASTLE OF WATER By Dane Huckelbridge & LIE TO ME By J.T Ellison

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Published April 4, 2017 By Thomas Dunne Books

Two very different people, one very small island. When their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.

Told in mesmerizing prose, with charm and rhythm entirely its own, Castle of Water is more than just a reimagining of the classic castaway story. It is a stirring reflection on love’s restorative potential, as well as a poignant reminder that home—be it a flat in Paris, a New York apartment, or a desolate atoll a world away—is where the heart is.

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I don’t know what it is about this book but I finished it almost 2 weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. First, that cover is just gorgeous isn’t it? And I love the title which is so reminiscent of the story. I want to keep this review very simple because I went into this story knowing only that it was a unique castaway story and for me that made for perfect reading. What’s most important to know is this…there’s a plane crash, two survivors, and a tiny island in the middle of nowhere because the pilot flew off course. The survivors are opposites in every sense and yet they must find a way to come together to not only survive physically but emotionally as well.

It’s not often that I re-read sentences because the words seem to have been put together to create a magic spell on the reader but I did many, many times while reading Dane Huckelbridge’s captivating prose. It was storytelling at it’s finest and I literally couldn’t put this book down. There’s a little bit of everything in this story: drama, heartbreak, suspense, action, humor, sadness, and so much love and resilience. Oh…and there’s a twist that left me stunned!  Seriously, I know my jaw dropped. I love it when an author manages to surprise me like that. If you’re looking for something different I highly recommend giving this a try….just make sure to have tissues handy.

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Published Sept 5th By Mira 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

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I love it when I prove myself wrong because when I read the blurb about this book I assumed I wouldn’t like it because my track record with psychological thrillers has been dismal this year. But when a very trusted reading friend emailed me to say I HAD to read this, my ears perked up and just like that I was tempted. I have to say, from the very first page I was hooked! Ellison began the story with just the right level of creepiness by using an obviously disturbed narrator to start the story and of course I was consumed with finding out who it was and how he/she figured into the picture perfect marriage of Sutton and Ethan…or was it actually one of them? The puzzle had begun and I was on board to solve it.

As questions swirled and we are given slivers of information and detail into the marriage of Ethan and Sutton, I found myself completely and totally entertained by the level of intrigue and shadiness the author was creating. We first hear from Ethan and there were times I thought ‘Oh I like him, I trust what he’s saying about his wife ‘ and then on the next page I would think ‘No, he’s lying.’ J. T. Ellison was messing with my head and I was loving it! About halfway through we get to hear from Sutton and then things really get twisted. What I loved was that this isn’t just your typical he said/she said, this is also a puzzle of the best jigsaw kind and I was addicted to sifting through the tiny pieces the author scattered until I could establish my theory surrounding the who, what and why regarding the crimes in this story. An extra treat for me were the scenes set in Paris…the bars, the streets, the people…I could see it all thanks to the vivid prose of the author. So,  thank you  J. T. Ellison for showing me there are still psychological thrillers out there that can leave me so thoroughly entertained!

Many thanks to Mira books via Netgalley for my copy