Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

C163A4FB-E662-4E9A-B80E-00D4AB9953FEThank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of Invisible Girl in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

My Review:

This book really got it’s claws in me, it’s full of dynamic characters that all feel like someone you already know, both the good and the bad!  Lisa Jewell is a master at character driven suspense thrillers and I loved Invisible Girl!

Each character really got under my skin, I was rooting for almost all of them. On the daily, I am constantly thinking about people: the choices they make, their actions, and how they effect others. This books just fueled that brain fire in my head. It’s such a great look at culture, social niceties and expectations, and what happens when someone decides that they will not just sweep the past under the rug or play by the rules.

This novel, while suspenseful for sure, is such a fantastic character study. I loved it, and I think fans of Jewell will love it too.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

FBC0C8D2-E848-4CDE-A0B2-038157539AAAThank you to Ecco books for sending me a free copy of Leave The World Behind in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

My Review:

It’s hard to squeeze this unique little book into one category: Leave the World Behind is part family drama, part suspense thriller, a teensy part horror, and at the end, an apocalyptic story that leaves your head spinning. This powerful book led me through all kinds of emotions while reading. It starts off as a posh little vacation read, but quickly spins a 180 into something else entirely.

I really enjoyed the writing style, it’s definitely more of a literary style, which isn’t always my favorite, but in this novel it works. And considering what is happening to this family, the eloquence in the phrasing is almost macabre in it’s juxtaposition. I do feel the need to warn, however, that the ending is abrupt. There isn’t any closure, and while I actually really like those kind of endings, I can see how it might not work for everyone.

I really enjoyed this one a lot! It packed quite a punch in it’s 240 pages and left me with some deep thinking, which I love! If you’re looking for  something a little different, a little unexpected, this is the book for you!

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

EB3FB174-EEC7-4917-98F4-89065DDD6A58I am new fan of Grady Hendrix but better late than never!  After reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires a few weeks ago, I purchased a few more of his previous novels.  My Best Friend’s Exorcism was jsut as good as Southern Book Club!

Synopsis:

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

My Review:

I am an 80’s baby, so reading this book set in the 80’s was a delight!  Jam packed full of 80’s references and each chapter title a song name are reason enough to like this book.  But just as in TSBCGTSV, what make’s this author’s books so special is the perfect blend of horror and humor!  Great character development, fun settings, and dark humor make for a very fun read.  The gory parts were super gross, but there aren’t many and most come at the end. I’m so excited to have found an author who writes such unique books, I will be reading anything Hendrix comes out with!  Highly recommended!

How To Bury Your Brother by Lindsey Rogers Cook

How To Bury Your Brother by Lindsey Rogers Cook

D7059D25-E48F-442C-B443-14BAB2750E62How To Bury Your Brother is a  heartfelt book about family, secrets and love really took me by surprise.  It went much deeper than I anticipated and I’m still thinking about it days later.

Synopsis:

Alice always thought she’d see her brother

again. Rob ran away when he was fifteen, with so many years left to find his way home. But his funeral happened first.

Now that she has to clear out her childhood home in Georgia, the memories come flooding in, bringing with them an autopsy report showing her family’s lies-and sealed, addressed letters from Rob.

In a search for answers to questions she’s always been afraid to ask, Alice delivers the letters. Each dares her to open her eyes to her family’s dark past-and her own role in it. But it’s the last letter, addressed to her brother’s final home in New Orleans, that will force her to choose if she’ll let the secrets break her or finally bring her home.

Everything I Never Told You meets The Night Olivia Fell set against a vivid Southern backdrop, How to Bury Your Brother follows a sister coming to terms with the mystery behind her brother’s disappearance and death.

My Review:

One of the thoughts that kept reverberating through my mind while reading How To Bury Your Brother was surprise. I was surprised at the deep life insights found within the pages from a seemingly young author. I am not sure just how old Ms. Cook is, but the picture on her website shows a young lady who looks like she has at least a few more years before hitting 30. How she managed to convey such mature and wise-beyond-her-years digressions about life and relationships is a wonder. I found myself relating to much of what the characters were going through and it made my reading experience so immersive.

This is a story about so much: loss and grief, but also love and relationships.  And more than anything, how keeping secrets, no matter how good the intentions, can hurt those closest to you. This was a slow burner of a novel but packed full of emotional depth.  And it was all moved along smoothly by Alice’s quest to deliver her brother’s letters.  I really don’t have anything bad to say about this one, it was beautiful and I think it will stay with me for a long time.  I will definitely be looking for more from Lindsey Rogers Cook in the future!

Devolution by Max Brooks

Devolution by Max Brooks

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I received a free audio copy of Devolution from Libro.fm and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Well this was quite the fun read!! Sometimes going outside of my comfort zone can be very rewarding!

This book is about a group of people that encounter the legend known as Sasquatch. It’s not a legend that I have ever believed in before which is why reading this book was very different for me. BUT: I loved it! The author did a great job of building up the characters and their lives and slowly adding in the sightings of Sasquatch. Doing so made it feel much more realistic, and the character’s doubts in what they were seeing added to the suspenseful ‘what-if’ factor. What if Sasquatch is real? What do you do if you encountered one?

The full cast audio narration was also great and really added to the scientific nature of the book with park ranger interviews and articles. Devolution is full of dynamic characters, a believable plot, and lots of action and suspense! Overall I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone looking for something different!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

14D8C0DF-0F7F-4D4E-BDEF-7F4A8640C70DWhat a fun, perfectly balanced ghost story! Sager just seems to hit it out of the park with every book!

I enjoyed the format of Home Before Dark, the chapters alternate between ‘the book’ that Maggie’s dad wrote about their experiences living in a haunted house when she was a child, and Maggie 25 years later trying to debunk what she thinks is all lies. This was new for Sager but he wove the different parts together seamlessly, which I think might be pretty difficult, not giving away too much too soon.

I didn’t think anything was over the top and the haunting seemed about as real as haunting can seem. I wasn’t exactly scared by this book but I did love the suspense. A very fun read that would be perfect in the fall!!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

B09B106D-52EC-4A6D-9FE4-F5483C35D81EThank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of Anxious People in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

First is Zara, a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else until tragedy changed her life. Now, she’s obsessed with visiting open houses to see how ordinary people live—and, perhaps, to set an old wrong to right. Then there’s Roger and Anna-Lena, an Ikea-addicted retired couple who are on a never-ending hunt for fixer-uppers to hide the fact that they don’t know how to fix their own failing marriage. Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents who are nervous about their chances for a successful life together since they can’t agree on anything. And there’s Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by a masked bank robber waving a gun in her face. And despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

My Review:

I don’t mind being the dark horse on this one.  I know the Fredrick Backman is an insanely well loved author, and while I absolutely loved A Man Called Ove, I haven’t liked a single other book by this author, including Anxious People. I gave this one a try because it sounded really different for him, but it didn’t work for me.

First of all, there are a lot of characters in this novel, and each of them have a very sad life story.  There was literally nothing positive in any of their lives. You get lots of little glimpses into the backstory of each character but nothing too deep.  Just enough to let you know how miserable they are.

Every few chapters, there is a transcript from the police interview of a different character, yet each interview was rambling and each character avoided answering any of the questions so that what actually happened never really comes to light and no one seems worried or upset in any way by being held hostage at gun point.  It just felt like reading nonsense.

The writing itself is too silly, too jaunty, to full of whimsy and didn’t match the depressing nature of each character’s life.  It felt like it was inappropriately making light of the character’s struggle, like telling a joke “too soon” after an accident and it just isn’t funny. And the third-person point of view made the whole thing unenjoyable to read, in my opinion.

I don’t usually write reviews this negative but a ridiculously large amount of people rave about this author that I am not worried my review will hurt this book in any way, rather I am hoping to reach a few outliers like myself who just don’t see the appeal in this writer who has always come across as trying too hard in my opinion.

 

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

D209F495-2755-4281-92C8-76EEBFB145B7Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a free copy of The Girl From Widow Hills in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

My Review:

Megan Miranda really knows how to do the slow burn thriller! The Girl From Widow Hills is full of smoldering mystery.  From the main character’s past, to the shady people in her present, I was guessing until the end on this one. So many shadows were cast, and I did have my suspicions, but the ending unfolded well.

Don’t expect a fast paced suspense novel with The Girl from Widow Hills, but be prepared for mystery and intrigue.  This was the prefect entertaining read for a long weekend (I read it over Memorial Day weekend!) I loved the build up of Olivia’s past with news articles and transcripts, and the way it wove into what was happening to her in the present.  Another plus: short chapters!  Irrelevant, I know, but I like that! Overall, a good, entertaining thriller!

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

F967DB15-DA30-4DFE-987F-718316930112Thank you to Harper books for sending me a free copy of Don’t Turn Around in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.

Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight.  Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them.  Someone wants one of them dead. But which one?  And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . . .

My Review:

This book really pulled me in, right from the first page.  Two women, fleeing in the dark of night…but why?  The mystery of their midnight flight had me turning pages to find out what they were doing.  As the novel progresses, Berry weaves in back story for both women, slowly bringing to light what the women are running from.

However, once secrets were revealed, it started to feel like two separate stories: one of suspense and intrigue, one a little on the heart wrenching side. Berry’s writing is fluid and sophisticated, so I definitely enjoyed this one, but I almost wish it had been two books. I just didn’t feel like the present story and the back story went together.

I liked this book, but Freefall was much better, in my opinion.  But I’m not done watching out for this up and coming author, I still plan to read what she comes out with next!

The Dilemma by B.A.Paris

The Dilemma by B.A.Paris

E160BFE8-37DD-4A23-8E21-D854D0AA3999A new thriller from B.A. Paris that is different from her previous work, The Dilemma is a fantastic read!

Synopsis:

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad.

But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be there. Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for his wife: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the family celebration. But during the day, he hears some terrible news and he too is faced with a dilemma.

How far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

My Review:

I have so many great things to say about this book!  The writing, the pacing, the relatability: all perfect!  The entire books takes place over the course of one day, alternating between a husband and wife’s point of view. Each set of chapters moving ahead an hour in the long and eventful day. That set up alone made this a very compelling and page turning read!  I read this fast in just two days.

Here’s why The Dilemma is different from Paris’ previous works: it’s an extremely relatable family drama. Nothing shocking, scandalous (well just a little) or vindictive.  This is not Drama with a capital D and a hair flip, this is real life drama that could really happen to someone. This is a story about a family, about the choices people make and how those choices effect the ones we love most.  There is a lot of inner dialogue that explains the choices of the husband and the wife and that made it really impossible to choose a side and as someone who has been married for almost ten years, I could relate to this story so much!  It was emotional, suspenseful, poignant and beautiful.  I loved it.  It might be the best book I’ve read so far in 2020.