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. πŸ™‚ 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.

 

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Lies by #T.M.Logan

It appears that this week is going to be based Lies. There is a plethora of books currently hitting the shelves with Lies or Lying in the title or theme. Today, the kindle version of Lies by T.M. Logan is hitting the market and the lies just keep coming.

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Joe Lynch is a happily married man. He has a beautiful wife, Mel, and an adorable son, Williams (Wills.) He loves his teaching job and enjoys the fact that he is one who does the primary care-giving for Wills. Until the fateful day when he follows his wife to a hotel. This one action sets into motion a downward spiral filled with lies, deceit, murder and mayhem. With each new revelation, the lies are compounded, changed and deepen the rabbit hole that Lynch has fallen into.

Lies is a fast paced, heart pounding domestic thriller that, quite literally, had me on the edge of my seat – until it didn’t. This debut novel begins strong, the story line is fascinating, but when the lies begin to pile up, the storyline begins to unravel to the point of in-believability. I understand that a lot of people in America believe lies – we see this every day with our government and politicians – but the sheer number of lies that this man swallows is ridiculous. The fact that any man would allow his wife to continue to change her story, apologize, re-tell the story with more lies, apologize, is simply unfathomable. There also is, once again, the fear-factor imbedded into the book regarding “social media.” This theme, too, is growing old. I fear war. I fear a lot of political throw-back, but I’m not going to go down the path of living in fear of my computer. Put a piece of tape over your computer’s camera and turn off your microphone. There – you’re fine now. There also is a “twist” at the end. I love a good, surprising ending, but this twist? Give me a break. <insert eye roll here> One would have to suspend all believability, ALL, to get past this twist. I’m not the type of reader who can.

I’m giving the book 2.5 rounded up to 3 stars because the beginning of the book was interesting. The fact that it invoked emotions from me until about 75% of the way through the book illustrates that Logan has potential as a writer. However…. unless you just need something to pass the time in a waiting room, this isn’t a book that I would read.

I received an advanced copy of the book via #Netgalley.

The Trailing Spouse

Ooops, surely no one who blogs is as scatterbrained as I, but as a reminder it is always a good thing to hit “publish” before leaving the blog. Yep. I really am that stupid forgetful.

I wanted so badly to read Jo Furniss’ first book but never could get my library to get it for me so I was really thrilled to receive a copy of The Trailing Spouse, her second book which you can now find at “most” libraries and at Amazon

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The Trailing Spouse follows the story of three characters, each of whom have a relationship with a man, Edward Bonham. Amanda, his wife, who traveled around the world to Singapore to be with Edward. She is “the trailing” spouse, a phrase used to describe the spouse who follows the person with a job wherever that job takes them. Here, Amanda has left Great Britain to move to Singapore, a city built on illusion, beautiful yet filled with horrors. This imagery is present throughout the marvelously crafted story.Β  Camille Kimball has returned to Singapore to find answers from her childhood, her missing parents, and closure to her past. And, there is Josie, Edward’s daughter who still is recovering from her mother’s apparent suicide. Her relationship with Edward is a strange one, to say the least. As the story progresses, the web around these characters grows and becomes more intricately tangled until the climactic conclusion.

Furniss has woven a story that is both beautiful and frightenly realistic. Amanda is, at first, described as the very typical “trailing spouse” who is interested only in being in a glamorous place and with the money that most often goes with the move. These spouses have no rights, very little ability to work independently, in many countries – such as Singapore – they cannot have a bank account in their name or conduct financial transactions on their own. They are, therefore, totally reliant upon their spouses for all of their needs. After her maid, the helper, is found dead, Amanda’s precarious life begins to unravel. As we watch her life come undone, we are left to ask ourselves “who is sane, who is not and how can we know who is telling the truth.” The answers will shock you!

I will admit that I was fascinated with the story and its setting. I had heard from those who had traveled to Singapore about its beauty but, more often, about the illusion upon which this city is built. It has more millionaires and billionaires than any other country; it is, quite literally, one of the richest places on earth. And yet, its people have limited freedom and its immigrants, often used for servitude and menial jobs, are often abused and exploited. Furniss does an excellent job recreating this side of Singapore’s tale. Her writing is skilled, filled with picturesque imagery and it was thisΒ  craftsmanship that elevated the book for me. However, there are parts that drag as a result of too much detail. There were times that I really did not want to read another word about Amanda’s embryos calling out to her or dancing in the freezer.Β  While this storyline added depth to Amanda’s character, it wasn’t entirely necessary to the actual plot so, for me, it dragged on too long and too often. It does not take away from the overall suspense of the book, but it does keep it from being a non-stop, page turning thriller. Despite this, I loved the book and absolutely recommend it for all who enjoy suspenseful tales. You won’t be disappointed.

I owe much appreciation to #JoFurniss, #Netgalley, and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific book!

 

 

The Exes Revenge by Jo Jakeman

A satisfyingly noir tale of three abused women seeking their revenge against one man.Β 

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Phillip Rochester is one of the cruelest, most manipulative, abusive men that these three women could imagine but they didn’t have to imagine him. He was their reality. When his current wife, Imogen, is told that she must move out of her house – which they own together – or face consequences, Imogen is well aware of what those consequences might entail. She has a son by this man and he is threatening to take away their child – not because of love, but because he seeks revenge on anyone he perceives as wronging him. Imogen snaps and does something incredibly rash not realizing that her actions ultimately will involve the other women in Phillip’s life.

I will admit that I found The Exes Revenge incredibly satisfying. It begins with Phillip’s funeral so we know from the start that he dies – thankfully. The story, told in present and past revelations, imparts the sequences of events leading to his death. As it unfolds we realize that every person who has had contact with Phillip has, in some way, been abused by him. In the era of the #metoo movement, this book is perfect as each person, from his wives to his lovers, in-laws and his own child, has been abused by him.

This isn’t “just” a story about abuse, however. It has some wickedly humorous moments and these three women most certainly do not start out as anything other than enemies: the ex-wife who is still in love with Phillip, the current wife who has been left for the third, much younger and prettier lover. How they interact with one another is quite rich.

The vengeful ex-wife story has been told repeatedly in literature, however, The Exes Revenge is a fresh, very honest and candid look at the lives of women who are abused. I either have been that woman or knew them. They are your neighbors, sisters, daughters and friends. There simply are too many women who have been verbally, physically, sexually or psychologically battered for the story ever to grow old. The ending, how Phillip actually dies, is priceless. I could read and re-read that chapter over and over again. Perhaps I’m just in a very cynical mood lately, but endings like this one provide immense gratification, as does the entire book. It is a fast paced page-turner that I highly recommend.

Many thanks to the author for an advanced copy of this debut thriller and also to Berkley Publishing Group for my physical copy of the book. Much love!

 

 

 

 

Our House – Murder and Mayhem Monday

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There is nothing that I love more than a good noir read and Our House, by Louise Candlish, is domestic noir at its finest.

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Fiona “Fi,” arrives home from a trip to find her house is being occupied by a new couple and her kids are missing! Immediately one would think the worst – home invasion, kidnapping…. but no, this couple claims to have purchased Fi’s home from Fi and her husband, Bram. After this foundation is laid, the book continues the story of Fi and Bram told retrospectively: Fi tells her woeful tale via a podcast and Bram tells his version of events via a suicide note. This method of storytelling actually works and is an interesting way of presenting both sides of story.

Fi and Bram’s lives are so convoluted that, at times, it made it difficult to connect with the characters. On the other hand, Candlish created a character, in Bram, who was so well developed that I came to despise the man. It has been a while since I have felt so strongly about a book character. In the end, there is a twist – not one for the sake of twisting – but something we, as readers, should have figured out from the clues but I suspect most, like me, do not and will not see this coming. And then there is the ENDING. The last paragraphs of the book were brilliance. Nope, never ever would I have suspected that ending but, again, it was perfection.

Yes, I am being somewhat vague regarding the plot and storyline. There are too many reviews out there with subtle spoilers and this book is better read blindly with no preconceived ideas of the storyline. I am not going to be the reviewer that ruins the noir element for you.Β  Our House is one fabulous book for readers of noir fiction, especially if you like a darker domestic tale.

I am so appreciative of the book that I received from the Berkley Publishing Group and Louise Candlish.

The Golden Child

The Golden Child is a contemporary domestic thriller at its finest!

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Wendy James, an Australian suspense, award-winning author, has created a tale that is as timely as it is chilling. With news of younger school shooters, children bullying one another online and in person and the suicide rate climbing in all industrialized nations, James has captured the essence of that drama and fear of every parent – “could my child do this?”

To the outside world and even to the blogging community, Beth and Dan appear to the be the perfect couple with two lovely, well-adjusted daughters who are bright, articulate, and very intelligent. What more could any family want or need? They have the usual dramas: moving across country, girls entering a new school, everyone adjusting to a different culture, but they are a close family that makes the most of these situations.

James also examines the flip side – the brilliant, gifted student and her family, who also appear to be “just a normal family,” but the girl does not have friends, is not fitting in at school and often is the target of unkind words.Β  Bringing these two families together, a chance meeting in the park, turns out to be a catastrophe for all involved. But no tragedy is ever what it seems and as we, the reader, discover, there is far more to the story than we are first led to believe.

From the very first page until the very last, you will be mesmerized by the innermost thoughts of the two mothers involved. Interspersed throughout the book are snippets of Beth’s “mommy-blog” as well as clips from the social media that the girls were using. This addition made the story so readable, captivating and interesting! The only reason that I hesitated giving this a full five star rating was because I suspected from nearly the beginning what the “twist” would be in the end. Never-the-less, this is a fascinating look at our society of teenagers and their families in today’s media driven world. There is a lot of introspection on the part of all involved and I found it to be spot on. The Golden Child is a perfect domestic thriller and I highly recommend it to all who enjoy this genre.

Not That I Could Tell

untitledFive women gathered around the fire-pit, happily sipping their wine while their baby monitors crackled in a circle. By morning there only would be FOUR.Β 

Not That I Could Tell is the sophomore novel by Jessica Strawser, a captivating tale of suburbia, the secrets that are hidden behind neighbors’ closed doors and the question we all ask ourselves – how well do we really know our neighbors?

Clare hosts the party for the women in the neighborhood to christen her new patio. They are simply thrilled to have a night away from the kids, a chance to gossip among themselves and to share secrets with one another that, normally, they would tell no one. However, one of the women – Kristin – has a dark secret that she has shared with no one. They never suspect the things she has kept hidden – no one would believe her if she told them. When the women awaken, Kristin and her children are gone without a trace. Did she leave willingly or did something more sinister happen to her? Suspicion falls on her husband, a doctor, but some – like new neighbor Izzy – want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Is he innocent as Izzy believes or is she walking into danger as the other women fear?

There are those who have compared this book to Sally Hepworth’s, The Neighbor Next Door; however, while both books draw on the idea of suburban housewives, Strawser does a better job of keeping her characters believable. These women, all of them, are women that I feel as though I know or have known. Strawser is a Midwestern writer and the story is set in a small town in Ohio, so the characters and the community seem quite familiar to me as a reader from the Midwest. That said, the book does have some flaws, the largest is that it is too long – or rather, it could have done with some editing. There were conversations that these characters had with themselves – in their own heads – that were repetitious. After a while I found myself skipping over some of them because I wanted to scream, “I get it!” This wasn’t enough to detract from my overall satisfaction with the book, but it does keep me from rating the book higher. I had this same issue with Strawser’s first novel, I Almost Missed You, so hopefully by her third book someone will get the message.

For a second book it’s amazing, most fall far short of the first. For a domestic thriller, it is top notch. As a mystery, it is a slow burner, so if you like fast paced thrillers this is not for you. However, I highly recommend it and am very pleased to say that we, in the Midwest, have another good writer to add to our shelves.