An Anonymous Girl

I don’t know about you, but I have the day after Christmas holiday hangover of not wanting to do much of anything except sitting around and drink coffee and read. By itself, that’s a bad idea; however, I’ve read a dozen books all of which now need reviews written for them. Would anyone like to volunteer for me, please? No? Oh, okay then…. On the first day after Christmas I wrote about An Anonymous Girl…..

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanan, authors of the best-selling hit book “The Wife Between Us,” are back and the hype their book is receiving is well deserved!

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In a world where morality is an ever changing gauge, a fluid point on which no two people agree, making ones way through relationships – familial, friendship, romantic liaisons – can be tricky at best. So, when Jessica, a make up consultant in need of money, overhears a client talking about a morality study at the local university that pays a handsome fee in return, she maneuvers her way into the study, a move that will alter her life forever.

This is a smart, expertly written psychological thriller that weaves a web of deceit so intricate that you will caught into it before you realize the first strand has been laid down for you. The characters are deftly written, I disliked them and loved them at varying times and all at once – is that is even possible – until the very last line of the book.

While I wasn’t a fan of The Wife Between Us, I found An Anonymous Girl to be extremely entertaining, very thrilling, a marvelous cat and mouse game and the ending was sheer perfection. The only reason I didn’t give it a full five stars is because there were scenarios that were just too over the top that they were unbelievable. That doesn’t always bother me, after all this is fiction, but it didn’t always work in this work. The book was, however, an excellent read and I highly recommend it!

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Forget You Know Me @jessicastrawser

When a video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see, the secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

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I have read and loved both of Jessica Strawser’s previous novels and knew that I would enjoy reading Forget You Know Me as well. I wasn’t wrong! From the first chapter to the end, the book had me hooked and greedily wanting more! While many erroneously believe that this is a thriller, the thing I’ve learned about Strawser is that, while the suspense is there, it is not the focal point of the story – the characters are where the interest lies and what makes you furiously read to the end. This is definitely a women’s fiction/general fiction, literary novel.

The story begins with two childhood friends making a video call. Their friendship, once forged of steel, is now weakening as both women deal with their own, very different adult lives. Neither wants to give up on what they had when they were younger, but neither do they know how to re-connect. It is during this video call, the call that they both hope will strengthen their friendship once more, that Liza sees a masked intruder in her friend’s home while her friend, Molly, is away from her computer to tend to her child. As Liza frantically calls 911, Molly is upstairs, unaware that anything has happened. When she returns, the laptop is closed and the police are banging on her door. Liza, terrified because her friend will not return her calls, hops in the car and drives from Chicago to Ohio to check on her friend, who, upon her arrival slams the door in her face. ??? Not what Liza expected at all. The story continues to unfold from each friend’s perspective. We learn about their fears, worries, trials and tribulations, marital problems, health problems – you know, all of the things that we all deal with every single day. Yet, somehow, Strawser makes their story so incredibly compelling that the reader becomes invested in their lives and the outcome of this harrowing event.

I will admit that there are some minor flaws in the storyline and some very nit-picking details that had me scratching my head at times. There also were many occasions that I wanted to reach into the book and slap all of the characters for being so stubborn and uncommunicative because, ultimately, all of their problems revolved around miscues, assumptions and miscommunication. Don’t people just talk to one another any more? Well, that is the question that this book will have you asking yourself. Ultimately, this is a book about friendships that come and go, old and new. It is about commitment and what it takes to make any type of relationship work. Most importantly, it is about bonds that we forge – human to human – what it takes to nurture them, strengthen them and when to know to break them for our own well-being. Forget You Know me is a strong, character driven tale in which Strawser deftly guides you along as you explore these characters’ lives, their quirks, pain and joy.

Forget You Know Me has repeatedly been listed as a “must-read” book for this winter and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. Strawser is an author that I know I can count on for a very good, well written, beautifully told story.

Immense thanks and gratitude to #Netgalley, @JessicaStrawser and @StMartinsPress for my advanced copy of this amazing book.

The Paragon Hotel @LyndsayFaye

The Paragon Hotel is a taut, well told historical mystery that will captivate you from its startling beginning to its breathtaking conclusion.

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There are few things that I enjoy more than a great mystery and when it is set in a historical context, it is like icing on a cake. That is exactly what Lyndsay Faye has created with The Paragon Hotel.

It is the era of prohibition and Alice “Nobody” James is mysteriously wounded and fleeing from the mobs of Harlem, New York where she was raised by her prostitute mother. She runs as far as she can to Portland, OR where she befriends the porter for The Paragon Hotel, an all black hotel with mysteries of its own. But events on the west coast are not a lot better than the east as the KuKluxKlan is gaining strength and has targeted the Paragon, the only all black hotel in the city. Alice, who is white, is barely accepted by its black residents and understandably so given the hate that is Klan is bringing to their door step, but she does make friends with Blossom Fontaine, the singer at the hotel, and her ward, Davy Lee. When Davy Lee goes missing, tension rise, alliances are questioned and the racial tension that has been simmering threatens to erupt.

The Paragon Hotel is one of those rare books that is both a suspenseful thriller as well as a looking glass at the past, one that allows the reader to see the important lessons from that era and how those lessons learned might be applied today. One might think that Harlem would have nothing in common with Portland, or that the 1920s is too far removed from current events today, and yet this story blends it all together seamlessly. What should have been a typical mystery, one filled with hate and ugliness, instead evolved into a tale of hope and encouragement.

I was riveted by The Paragon Hotel and could not put it down from the first to the very last page. Its characters were so beautifully drawn that they will continue to haunt me for a very long time and the story itself changed me profoundly. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

My thanks to #Edelweiss, @PutnamBooks, and @LyndsayFaye for my copy of this incredible tale

The Au Pair #emmarous @BerkleyPub

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

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It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday here at Macsbooks and, if I were asked to choose the perfect MMM book, it would The Au Pair! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all.

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised in an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father’s tragic, accidental death. While going through their father’s belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family.

Told from two points of view, Seraphine’s and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection!

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th.

Many thanks to @BerkleyPub and #EmmaRous for my copy of this amazing tale.

Day of the Accident #NualaEllwood

I absolutely loved My Sister’s Bones, the debut psychological thriller by Nuala Ellwood, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I was not disappointed. Rarely do I come across a second book by an author that is as good as the first – there seems to be a block regarding those second outings – but Ellwood surprised me with Day of the Accident, due to be released in February, 2019.

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Moments after Maggie wakes from a coma, her world is shattered when she is told that her daughter was tragically killed and Maggie may be the one responsible for her death. When she asks to see her husband, she learns that he disappeared the day of the funeral. With no memory of the tragedy, alone and confused and still injured, Maggie attempts to learn the truth of what happened on that fateful day. But, if you are familiar with Ellwood’s writing at all, you know those answers involve deeply held secrets, dark and twisty surprises and an ending you will not see coming!

I don’t always enjoy twists and turns in a book, especially when they are thrown in there just to “surprise” you but have little relevance to the story. Ellwood however, slowly allows you to twist and turn, shading the truth in darkness and lies and leaves you wanting more until you reach the climactic conclusion. Every reveal brings more questions rather than answers and has you, the reader, questioning what you once thought of as real.

There is a reason that Ellwood was awarded so many accolades in 2017 as “the author to watch” and “the new face in suspense,” because she really is that talented! I cannot recommend this book highly enough! It is terrific! And, if you cannot wait until February, you can listen to the book now with audible. 🙂 5 plus more captivating stars for Ellwood and Day of the Accident.

It goes without saying that I hugely thankful to #Netgalley, #NualaEllwood and the folks at @PenguinUK for my copy of this incredible thriller.

 

The View From Our Window @authorljryan

Every now and again a book sneaks up on me and grabs my attention and my heart. The View From our Window is exactly one of those books! A sweeping family drama that travels from Ireland to France, dips down to Columbia and back again, The View From Our Window is part romance, espionage thriller, and domestic noir all in one book!

SaturdayI love a great fiction story whether it is historical fiction, women’s lit, the classics or a family drama; fiction has so much to offer when it is written well. The View From Our Window, a family drama, revolves around three people, ironically born on the same day at nearly the same time, whose lives continue to intersect with one another. Laurel, our heroine, is a newly widowed mother of two who is trying to escape her family and their treachery, as well as the mounting problems her deceased husband has left behind. Paul, her childhood friend, is a rising star in Irish politics and has just been named Minister of Justice. Unfortunately that means he will be in charge of the investigation into Laurel’s husband. And David, a French movie star – which is not as trite as it sounds – who is recovering from a very nasty divorce that has cost him visitation with his children. Their lives will converge with very dramatic, life threatening results.

cover151262-medium I admit that in the beginning of the book I was lost and confused as the details and backstory, the births, of these three were laid out for us. However, the writing was so expertly done and the story so compelling that I knew if I continued I would be rewarded – and I was! There is, quite literally, not one genre into which this book belongs. There is romance between Laurel and David but it grows out of a very beautiful friendship that she began with his family who befriended her when she moved to the French countryside. There is international politics and intrigue as we follow Paul through the machinations of Irish politics that is fraught with complications within the EU. There is espionage, drug runners and white collar crime that crosses all borders and familial lines. In all, it is a non-stop intense thrill ride from beginning to end! There is something for everyone within this book! I laughed, I cried, I got angry and still was left wanting more! I want a sequel!! All the stars and accolades for The View From Our Window and L J Ryan, I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Heaps of thanks to #Netgalley, @BooksGoSocial and #LJRyan for my copy of this amazing book!

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

My apologies for going MIA for a few days. In my real-life-non-reviewer world, I run a bed and breakfast. We purchased an abandoned, run-down, falling apart Victorian home two years ago and are rehabilitating it to its former glory. This week, we opened a new guest room but WOW did it take more work than anticipated. The BnB also had its first wedding of sorts so there was a ton of prep work for that as well. Loads of Fun but, sadly, no time for reviews. Now I’m back, at least until the holidays. 🙂

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Camilla Way is a new-to-me author. I went into the book unsuspecting and was wowed by its gripping suspense.

The Lies We Told is the story of two families – one who has a daughter, Hannah, who never has been quite normal. In fact, she has sociopathic tendencies that worsen the older she gets. The second family has a son who is missing and his girlfriend is trying desperately to find him – hopefully before it is too late. The intersection of these two families is where our story lies. Each family has a dark secret that will affect the outcome of all of their lives. Their secrets have been buried for decades but what will the cost of revealing that secret be?

While the story itself was not always as plausible as I would have liked, the suspense was nail-bitingly fantastic! I stayed up late to read this one through to the end because I just had to know the “secret” and how these two families were intertwined. To say I was shocked at the reveal is an understatement – more so – I was shocked at the subsequent twist. This is one helluva ride from start to finish.

If you like mysteries, suspense and thrillers, this is the book for you. Camilla Way is definitely on my radar now and I cannot wait for her next book!

Thank you to PenguinPublishing – Berkley for this amazing read!