Always With a Book

Friday, February 28, 2020

Review: Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald


Title: Behind Every Lie
Author: Christina McDonald
Published: February 2020, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-book, 336 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell—an “emotionally charged mystery” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author)—comes a thrilling new suspense novel about the insidious nature of family secrets…and their deadly potential.

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Christina McDonald and it definitely grabbed me from the go. I read it as a buddy read with the #notyomamasbookclub and it is a great book to read for a book club. 

I loved the way this story is told, alternating between the present and the past and eventually weaving the stories together. It is an emotionally charged story about the lengths a mother will go to protect to protect their child and I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out just what was going on. I do have to say there were some parts that I felt were a little bit contrived, but all in all, it was a thrilling book that really gets your heart pumping.

I love when an author plays around with memory and that is definitely what happens here. Eva has been struck with lightning and wakes up to find that she has no memory of the incident and on top of that, her mother has been murdered that same night. But she also has a trauma from back in college when she was attacked and that emotional trauma has been following her ever since. 

This book had so many moving parts. It explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships quite well, as well as the danger of keeping secrets. I really found myself hooked and even though I had an inkling of where things were headed and who was involved, I still couldn't figure out the why and how. But it definitely had me frantically flipping those pages to get the answers, for sure.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to our final discussion on the last half of this book. I think there will be some interesting chats going. And I definitely will be picking up Christina McDonald's debut novel, The Night Olivia Fell, very soon...I really like her writing and will certainly be keeping an eye out for what she writes next!


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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review: Don't Look Down by Hilary Davidson


Title: Don't Look Down
Author: Hilary Davidson
Series: Shadows of New York, #2
Published: February 2020, Thomas & Mercer
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of One Small Sacrifice, a gripping mystery about a sinister murder that everyone wants to stay buried—except one dogged NYPD detective.

Jo Greaver is a model of success. Young and ambitious, she’s built a thriving beauty business from nothing. But she has secrets she’ll do anything to keep buried. When her blackmailer offers to meet, Jo expects to pay him off—but gets a bullet instead. Bleeding and in shock, Jo flees with no one to turn to.

When NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, find Andray Baxter murdered in his own home—shot through the heart—everything points to Jo as the killer. Her blood is at the scene, and so are disturbing photos of her taken as a young teen. But Sheryn has doubts. Was the kindhearted Andray really a criminal? Why did he repeatedly report finding spyware in his apartment? Was there something shady about Jo’s sister dying a year earlier?

Something’s not right, and it’s up to Sheryn to piece together the sinister puzzle, no matter the cost.



My thoughts: This is the second book in Hilary Davidson's Shadows of New York series and I have to say...I'm a fan! After meeting her at Bouchercon last fall, I was so thrilled when she reached out to me about this series. I love police procedurals and love that with this series, Hilary Davidson blends a touch of psychological suspense in as well.

Once again, we have a multi-layered story here. What at first seems as a shootout is anything but, and as Detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza start investigating, they begin seeing that this is one complicated case, with so many threads that it really keeps you guessing. 

I love that as much as this book focuses on the case that Sterling and Mendoza are working on, we also get quite a bit of character development. We see what is going on with Sterling's family, especially with her son this time around. She needs to balance her role as a mom with her profession as a cop and sometimes it's not easy. She sees everyday what happens to young teens, and especially young black teens and she does not want her son to go down the wrong path. He's bright and wants to do good, but not all cops will see it that way.

I also love that the more you get to know Jo Greaver, the more you become involved and invested in her story. I started out not necessarily liking her, but as we delve deeper into her background and find out exactly what is going on in her life, you can't help but feel more empathetic towards her. She isn't quite what you expect her to be from the initial meeting and I loved that. 

This book is fast-paced and full of twists and turns. It kept me engaged from start to finish, and I loved that all the characters, good or bad, seemed to be fully developed. I also love that we get such a strong sense of place. New York City is my favorite city and it really comes alive in this book. I cannot wait to see what comes next in this series...I am definitely a fan!



Books in this series:  
  1. One Small Sacrifice
  2. Don't Look Down
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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Review: Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (audio)


Title: Oona Out of Order
Author: Margarita Montimore
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Published: February 2020, Macmillan Audio
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes
Source: ALC via Libro.fm

Summary:
"Reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, Oona Out of Order is a delightfully freewheeling romp.” —Booklist (starred review)

Just because life may be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.

 
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?

Oona Out of Order is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of sequence. Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.


 
My thoughts: I may not in general be a fan of time travel books, but this one completely captured my heart and maybe it was Oona herself, but there is just something about this book that I loved. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to read it and I'm so glad I did. It's a quirky, thought-provoking tale that will stay with you long after you finish it.

Would you be happy if you were to know all that is to come in your life? If you somehow knew everything that was going to happen, good and bad and maybe had the opportunity to alter it? This book is such good fodder for that as we travel with Oona back and forth in time each New Year's Day. 

I think one of the biggest takeaways of this book, at least for me, is that life is best lived when we take it moment by moment and not when we are always thinking about the next thing. Yes, there are times when life has hurt and not always gone the way I may have wanted, but that has only made me a stronger, better person. Life can't always be sunshine and rainbows. You have to weather the storms at times. This book will make you see that and I love it all the more for that. 

I will be recommending this book to everyone. And it is one that I know I will be rereading at some point just because I loved it so much. And oh how I would love more of Oona some day!


Audio thoughts: This was a fantastic audio...I loved the way Brittany Pressley brought Oona alive in her narration. Her pacing and intonation was spot on and I thought she infused just the right amount of emotion and tension in her voice as was necessary. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio.


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Monday, February 24, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day


Title: The Lucky One
Author: Lori Rader-Day
Published: February 2020, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
“This might well be my favorite Rader-Day so far: a brilliant premise intriguingly developed, totally believable characters and a climax that took my breath away.”  — Ann Cleeves, New York Times bestselling author of The Shetland and Vera Series  

From the acclaimed author of Under A Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.

Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one…
As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.
Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.
Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.
Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

My thoughts: Lori Rader-Day is still a relatively new author to me, having read only one other book by her, but I loved that book, so I knew I wanted to read more. I actually had the pleasure of meeting her this past fall at Bouchercon and gushed to her about how much I loved Under a Dark Sky. I couldn't wait to read her latest and it was just as good.

Taking on what seems to be the new current fascination with true crime and everyone thinking they are or can be armchair detectives, Lori Rader-Day gives us one twisted, dark thriller that is completely compulsive and engaging. It involves two quirky, yet interesting main characters who end up coming together because of one missing man - a man that somehow seems to be connected to these girls for very different reasons. 

I loved this book. I really enjoyed the way it was set up, and while at times it was a little slow, for the most part, the pace really kept me flipping the pages to see where it would all lead. I was completely captivated by the idea of these women trying to solve these cases on their own - yes, I know it happens and there are groups out there that actually do this, but it still just fascinates me. I loved the threads from the online group - they added another layer that just enhanced the story.

As the women get deeper into the search, they begin to learn things they never imagined learning. Secrets and lies seem to be at the heart of this case and ever so slowly Alice and Merrily are uncovering them little by little.

This book is nothing shy of brilliant the way it is crafted. I was captivated from the start and found myself completely on edge as bits and pieces started to come together. The twists and turns are not always in your face; some are quite subtle, yet they all come together in an ending that you will be hard-pressed to guess. I love that one thing I can count on from Lori Rader-Day is her ability to always shake things up just when I think I know where things are heading.





About the author:  Lori Rader-Day is the author of Under a Dark SkyThe Day I DiedLittle Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She is a three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, winning the award in 2016. Lori lives in Chicago.

Author links:  Website | Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram
 
Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #theluckyone).



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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Review: The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer


Title: The Blossom Twins
Author: Carol Wyer
Series: Detective Natalie Ward, #5
Published: December 2019, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 386 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
Their parents thought they were hiding…

One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.

When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.

The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put onto the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.

The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?

Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her
attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter Leigh…

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.



My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Carol Wyer's Detective Natalie Ward series, and somehow each book seems to get better and better. Carol Wyer sure knows how to write an addicting and thrilling series for sure - I was a huge fan of her DI Robyn Carter series and I am loving this one just as much. 

While I won't say that you necessarily have to read this series in order, as each book contains a self-contained case that is solved within the book, I do strongly suggest reading it in order for the character development. And to me, that is where this series is so strong. There are so many threads that have been carried through from the start of the series that really play a factor in understanding Detective Natalie Ward and if you like that part of the series - the character development - then do yourself a favor and read the books as the author wrote them.

In this latest installment, you will feel the tension right from the get-go, it is so palpable and it lasts all the way through. Natalie's marriage is all but over, she just needs to find the time to tell her children that she is going to be moving out. On the work-front, half her team is on vacation so her boss calls in for backup and that leads to an old foe coming to join her team, and the case that they land is eerily similar to one she worked on years ago.

What I love about this book is that we see Natalie trying ever so hard to balance work and life and sometimes it just doesn't happen. And we see the stress get to her. She knows that she sometimes put work above all else, including her family and she feels the guilt and it doesn't help that right now the issues with her husband are adding fuel to that fire. When the case takes a personal turn, things at home are only going to get worse and that is only going to make the guilt that Natalie carries increase.

While I was shocked when the killer was revealed, at the same time I wasn't, if that makes sense. I think somehow, I intuitively knew that was who it was going to be. But I was devastated over that final victim and I cannot imagine how that is going to play out...it's completely emotional and yet at the same time, it oddly works. 

This book is intense and kept me glued to the pages. As soon as I had an inkling of who the killer was, I could not stop reading. And then when the worst happened, I thought for sure it would have a happy resolution, only to end in a nightmare. I cannot believe that Carol Wyer went there, but then again, sometimes a writer has to take that chance. I will be reading the next book ASAP to see how it is handled! This series just got real!!!



Books in this series:

  1. The Birthday
  2. Last Lullaby
  3. The Dare 
  4. The Sleepover
  5. The Blossom Twins
  6. The Secret Admirer - due out April 2020 
 
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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Review: Truth Be Told by Kathleen Barber


Title: Truth Be Told
Author: Kathleen Barber
Published: November 2019, Gallery Books
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

* This was first published in August 2017 under the title, Are You Sleeping

Summary: 
Soon to be a major TV series from Apple TV+ and produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine!

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller—formerly titled Are You Sleeping—about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a megahit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, questioning whether the wrong person may be behind bars, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.



My thoughts:  Somehow, I missed this book when it first came out, but luckily I was offered the chance to review it under it's new name. I'm not quite sure why the name change came out - if it has to do with the upcoming TV series or if the publishers decided on it, but either way, I'm glad I finally read it because I really enjoyed this book.

I love when authors use other elements to help tell their story and that is exactly what Kathleen Barber does here in her story. I've just gotten into podcasts myself and loved that the author uses this in her book. While this isn't the first time I've come across this in a book - the other being Gilly Macmillan's I Know You Know - at that time I wasn't listening to them myself. Now that I do listen, I can really appreciate just how addictive a podcast can be and why Poppy's podcast had such an appeal to it.

I loved the characters in this book. They are all well-developed and quite honestly, not all entirely likeable and I love that. I found myself questioning whether I could trust them. They are all dysfunctional to some degree but yet I found myself wanting to see them all find some happiness in the end...I was rooting for them. There are the twins who have been dealing with the death of their father and their mother goes off to join a cult. These twins could not be any more different and yet you feel the angst and unhappiness drip off the pages. They clearly have not dealt with all that has happened to them in their life. Then there is the journalist, Poppy. She is out to prove herself and feels this cold case is going to be the one. Even though she rubbed me the wrong way a feel times, she really is quite brilliant at her job.

I flew through this book...I just couldn't get enough and between the excerpts from the podcasts, the twitter interactions and facebook chats, it really made the book come alive. This was such an addictive, thrilling read and I cannot wait to read more from Kathleen Barber. Her next book, Follow Me, comes out later this month and I will be reading it very soon!

 
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

Next month, Suzanne Redfearn's latest book In An Instant will be published. I am really excited to read it and because I ended up with an extra copy, I wanted to give it away to one lucky reader. 

You can see what others have to say and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!!



Title: In An Instant
Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Published: March 2020, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 332 pages

Summary: 
A deeply moving story of carrying on even when it seems impossible.

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.



Early Praise: 

“The characters are sensitively portrayed, as is their recovery, and the hopeful ending is realistic. Readers of domestic dramas will be enthralled.” —Booklist

“Suzanne Redfearn’s latest is a wonder. A thoughtful exploration of life, death, and the world in between, In an Instant is a powerful and poignant read.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“In an Instant begins as an action-packed tale of survival that is positively addictive; then it digs deep into an emotional and thought-provoking exploration of our humanity and what it means to make difficult moral choices in the most harrowing of circumstances. Redfearn tackles it all brilliantly and compassionately in this mesmerizing and wondrous novel. It’s a triumph on every level, and I absolutely loved it.” —USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean

“When a sudden car accident shatters a family, they’re left to pick up the pieces while trying to solve the mystery of just what happened that night. Redfearn deftly pivots from character to character in this multiple-points-of-view narrative, unraveling the past and weaving together a new future for the family. In an Instant is sure to please fans of The Lovely Bones and Big Little Lies.” —Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of The Good Liar and Hidden

“Suzanne Redfearn’s In an Instant is part ghost story, part love letter to a family in crisis after a devastating accident in the midst of a brutal snowstorm. This cleverly crafted novel chronicles a heartbreaking journey from grief and despair to one of acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately hope. Through Redfearn’s luminous prose, In an Instant succeeds in building an unforgettable portrait of human frailty and strength in the face of unfathomable loss.” —Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Before She Was Found

“In an Instant is a triumph! When tragedy strikes, two families are thrown into chaos as the lines of morality are blurred. Redfearn handles a family’s shock and grief with the perfect balance of empathy and hope and will have you contemplating what really lies underneath the shiny veneer of those closest to you. Make In an Instant your first read of 2020.” —Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, bestselling authors of Girls’ Night Out

“Breathtaking, compelling, heart stopping, and original. An utter page turner—I couldn’t put the book down. I highly recommend this unforgettable story. Kudos to Suzanne Redfearn.” —Jane Porter, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Told in gripping prose, In an Instant is both an addictive, suspenseful read and a thoughtful exploration of what each of us would do in a time of intense trauma. Redfearn’s characters are so real and the plot so mesmerizing I couldn’t think about anything else. A must for book clubs!” —Anita Hughes, author of Rome in Love and Christmas in Vermont

“Suzanne Redfearn’s latest, In an Instant, is a captivating, heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting novel about a family’s devastating tragedy and its aftermath. Reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, the story is told by sixteen-year-old Finn, who struggles to find closure for herself while watching her loved ones do the same. Redfearn deftly explores those split-second decisions that can alter our destinies and the guilt we hold on to, despite our need to let go. In an Instant reminds us what it is to be human—vulnerable, fallible, and also resilient and triumphant when we face our challenges with unity and love.” —Janis Thomas, bestselling author of What Remains True and All That’s Left of Me

“In the wake of a tragic car accident, the survivors are forced to make unimaginable choices in desperation to survive, spiraling into a heart-wrenching journey to live with those same choices afterward, forever haunting the ones they love and perceptions of self. Told through the perspective of a teenage girl whose life is cut short—her desperation to be alive and connected to her family is a reminder of how fragile the things we take for granted truly are. Suzanne Redfearn’s In an Instant will make you thankful for every breath you take.” —Kristin Fields, author of A Lily in the Light


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Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a copy of  In An Instant  by Suzanne Redfearn. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by February 24th.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends February 24th.

Good Luck!!! 
     
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