Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney

Title: The Stolen Girls
Author: Patricia Gibney
Series: Detective Lottie Parker, #2
Published: July 2017, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 452 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

The young woman standing on Lottie’s step was a stranger. She was clutching the hand of a young boy. ‘Help me,’ she said to Lottie. ‘Please help me.’

One Monday morning, the body of a young pregnant woman is found. The same day, a mother and her son visit the house of Detective Lottie Parker, begging for help to find a lost friend.

Could this be the same girl?

When a second victim is discovered by the same man, with the murder bearing all the same hallmarks as the first, Lottie needs to work fast to discover how else the two were linked. Then two more girls go missing.

Detective Lottie Parker is a woman on the edge, haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her family together through difficult times. Can she fight her own demons and catch the killer before he claims another victim?

My thoughts: As soon as I had read the first book in Patricia Gibney's Detective Lottie Parker series, I knew I was going to be a fan - I was hooked right away and couldn't wait for the next book to come out. Well, here it is, a few days before the 3rd book is due out, and I finally finished reading the 2nd one...not because I didn't like it, quite the contrary, but there are just too many good books out there! But let me tell you - if you like a good crime thriller with a kick-*ss detective, this series is for you!

Once again, I found myself completely engaged in this book and despite the length - this book is quite a chunkster, I found myself frantically flipping through the pages, eager to see what was going to happen next. I will say, this book deals with some pretty tough topics - sex trafficking and organ harvesting and self-harm, but it doesn't dwell on them, if you know what I mean. They are major parts of the story-line, and the self-harm part actually hits a bit close to home for Lottie, but they are well-balanced with everything else that is going on.

I am a huge fan of series, and I say this quite often, but I will say it again here - I really think it's important that you go into this story having read the first book. There are events that happened in that prior book whose threads are still being picked up in this current story. That's not to say that Patricia Gibney doesn't give a little background in this book to help you out or refresh your memory, but you don't get the full effect/impact unless you've read that book.

I really like how as much as this is a police procedural/crime fiction book, it has that human side to it where we see just how vulnerable Lottie is, how she is struggling as a single mom, how her kids are handling things, or not handling things, as the case may be. Lottie is doing her best to try to juggle all this and of course things slide, but at what cost? Who suffers the most - her kids or her job or herself?

This book pulls you in and you are not only swept up in the case and the action, but also into Lottie's family life. There are some big developments with Lottie's kids and I'm curious to see how that all plays out in the next book. These teenagers are sure giving Lottie a run for her money, that's for sure! And there's still Boyd, hanging in the wind. His wife/ex-wife (I wasn't exactly clear on this point!) shows up in this book and the jealousy in Lottie is quite humorous...she won't admit she wants anything with Boyd, yet she doesn't want him to have anyone else? Hmmm! 

This series is so good and I cannot wait to pick up the next book to see not only what case Lottie will find herself and her team mixed up in, but also what happens with her family. This is the type of read that no matter how many pages there are in the book, you just can't help but fly through them...but then you are disappointed when you reach the end, because you have to wait until the next one releases. Hopefully, this is a long series!

Books in this series:
  1. The Missing Ones
  2. The Stolen Girls
  3. The Lost Child - due out 10.27.17 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: The Blind by A.F. Brady

Title: The Blind
Author: A.F. Brady
Published: September 2017, Park Row Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Sam James has spent years carefully crafting her reputation as the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan's most challenging psychiatric institution. She boasts the highest success rates with the most disturbed patients, believing if she can't save herself, she'll save someone else. It's this savior complex that serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons, though it leads Sam down some dark paths and opens her eyes to her own mental turmoil.

When Richard, a mysterious patient no other therapist wants to treat, is admitted to Typhlos, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche. What she can't figure out is why does Richard appear to be so completely normal in a hospital filled with madness? And what, really, is he doing at the institution? As Sam gets pulled into Richard's twisted past, she can't help but analyze her own life, and what she discovers terrifies her. And so the mind games begin. But who is the savior and who is the saved?

My thoughts: This was another one of those hidden gems that had it not been for BookExpo this past Spring, I'm not sure I would have heard about. As a debut novel, it's certainly one that lingers in your mind - more for it's intensity and intriguing premise than anything else. 

This is a character-driven psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. And the main character, Dr. Sam James is full of secrets. She's a psychologist at a mental institution where she's worked hard to create a reputation of being the best, however, her personal life is nothing less than a train wreck! She's barely a functioning alcoholic and is in what can only be considered an abusive relationship. Half the time she shows up to work hungover, if not still just a wee-bit drunk. 

All's status quo until a patient arrives with a mysterious past and is basically unwilling to give up any information about himself. Sam is determined to work with him and uncover his secrets. As she begins to learn about his past, she realizes that, while examining her own past, she needs to make changes.

This book becomes quite addictive once the mind games begin. Who is this mystery patient and why is he so secretive and unwilling to share his history? As Sam starts digging into his part and the clues start coming together, I admit that I did put a few of them together - but definitely not the ending! Wow - that was quite a shocker!!! 

What started as a slow read quickly became a roller-coaster of a ride that had me frantically flipping pages to figure out where things were headed. This book really gets under your skin and doesn't let up until the very end. It's dark and at times a bit uncomfortable, but quite redeeming in the end. This was a great debut and I look forward to seeing what comes next from this author!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: October 2017, Atria Books
Format: ARC E-book, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My thoughts: I am still relatively new to Colleen Hoover's books - this is only the second book of hers I've read, It Ends With Us being the other one. From what I understand, she has taken a slightly different direction with these two from her previous books - they are more serious in nature and less reliant on the romance angle. Either way - I thoroughly enjoyed both, this latest one really taking me by surprise!

I think what really stands out about this book is that it's unlike anything I've read before. It's both painful and raw and yet also redeeming and hopeful. It tackles some really tough, uncomfortable topics - mental health, depression and suicide -  as well as dysfunctional families and secrets. But as much as it deals with all this heavy stuff, it's equally balanced with lighthearted humor and just a little hint of romance.

The cast of characters that make up this story are all flawed and most of them are what I would call quirky. They all have some pretty deep and complex issues, most of which they refuse to acknowledge. And, for the kicker - they have pretty much stopped communicating with each other, other than for basic necessity.

What I found pretty interesting is that this story isn't about one big event, but rather it's all these little events that slowly build up...almost like the butterfly effect. As all these little events are building up, layer upon layer, one on top of the other, it's as if a storm is brewing and then BAM! Eventually is has to no where to go but to explode - and then watch out! But what's truly amazing is that the end result of this outburst is not what you expect - it's all about perspective. Because sometimes the secrets we are holding aren't what they seem.

This novel will have you thinking and coming back to perspective time and time again. As I said before, it's a painful, honest read, but also a very powerful read. It's heartfelt and heartwarming and one that you will be thinking about long after you finish the last page.

About the author:  Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 
|    Instagram

Without Merit  by Colleen Hoover
Atria Books
October 3, 2017 
Paperback ISBN: 9781501170621 
E-book ISBN: 9781501170638

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

Title: Hide and Seek
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Series: Helen Grace, #6
Published: October 2016, Penguin Books
Format: Paperback, 372 pages
Source: Personal copy 
Prison is no place for a detective

Helen Grace was one of the country's best police investigators. Now she's behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder

She knows there is only way out: stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer

But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door, Helen fears her days are numbered. A murderer is on the loose. And she must find them.

Before she becomes the next victim...

My thoughts: Last December, I was in London and found this gem in one of the bookstores I was perusing...and I was ecstatic!!! I knew it wouldn't be out in the states for quite some time, so of course I bought it...but as most bookworms know, finding the time to read it proved to be difficult. Turns out, I didn't get to read it right away and now here we are, me posting my review when the book is already out here in the states! Oh well, best laid plans and all that!

One thing I want to say before going any further with my review...I highly, highly, highly recommend reading the prior book in this series, Little Boy Blue, before reading this book in order to get the full impact of this story. I actually recommend reading the whole series in order, but if nothing else, read Little Boy Blue first as this one picks up right where that one left off and gives the reason why Helen is where she is and sets up other parts of the story. 

Anyway...I love this series...Helen Grace is one of my favorite characters - she's tough and ruthless and holds nothing back to solve the cases she's given. But in this book, we see her in completely different circumstances - we see a more vulnerable side to her. In this installment, Helen finds herself behind bars, on the wrong side of the law...yet that doesn't stop her from investigating the murders that are taking place inside of the prison. See - that's what I love about her - her determination to always put her job above all else!

I found this book to be such a fast, twisty, crazy read. I also loved the claustrophobic feeling you get as you read - not necessarily an easy feat to pull off, but I felt Arlidge was successful in this. The use of short chapters help to amp up not only the tension and suspense but the pace as well. This is quite the gripping read and I cannot wait to see what comes next!

Books in this series:
     1.  Eeny Meeny
     2.  Pop Goes the Weasel
     3.  The Doll's House
     4.  Liar Liar
     5.  Little Boy Blue  

     5.5  No Way Back
     6.  Hide and Seek

     6.5  Running Blind 
     7.  Love Me Not


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Title: The Last Mrs. Parrish
Author: Liv Constantine
Published: October 2017, Harper
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher
A mesmerizing debut psychological thriller full of delicious twists about a coolly manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut to achieve the privileged life she wants.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

My thoughts: What a fun, twisted, crazy book!!! I picked this gem up at BookExpo this past Spring and have been looking forward to reading it, but never did I expect it to be as good as it was...and I did not realize it was written by two sisters who wrote it via Skype - how cool is that!

I think what comes to mind when summing up this story is the old adage - be careful what you wish for. At least that's what I think of when I think of Amber...oh, she thought she was so clever and conniving, coming up with this great plan of hers...only to be basically outplayed in the end. But, I really don't want to give too much away as I really think you need to experience all the thrills and twists of this book for yourself.

What I will say is that I loved the way the story was told...first from Amber's point of view and then from Daphne's point of view. It really shook up the whole story - almost turning it upside down. There is so much going on just underneath the surface that you really need to be paying attention to - it's not so much what's being said as what's not being said.

You may think you know what's going on and you may think you know who the villains are - but believe me when I say - you don't. It's so not a case of black and white. This book will turn you inside out and have you rethinking everything as you delve deeper and deeper into the story. It will get under your skin - and good thing it's a fast read - I devoured it in an afternoon!

I so hope this isn't the last we've seen of this writing duo...this was a fantastic debut novel and I can't wait to see what comes next for them! They certainly have a knack for creating some deliciously devious characters and just the right amount of dark, twisty plots for them. Perfect reading on a chilly afternoon!

Book Spotlight: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Today, Next of Kin, the debut book by James Tucker is being published and to celebrate, I am helping the publisher get the word out. I will be reading this book and sharing my review soon! For now, please enjoy this spotlight and let me know if you will be reading this book :)

I'm always excited to find a new  crime thriller series to read and one that's set in NY - bonus!!! It's even better when I can get in on the series from the start. This police procedural/crime thriller seems like it will be right up my alley, so I can't wait to dig in!  

Title: Next of Kin
Author: James Tucker
Series: Detective Buddy Lock Mysteries, #1
Published: October 2017, Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, 348 pages
A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.

What readers are saying: 

“In Tucker’s impressive first novel and series launch, NYPD detective Buddy Lock…keeps the excitement level high throughout. The surprise ending will leave readers impatiently awaiting Buddy’s next outing.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Direct and fast-paced, Tucker’s debut takes readers on an adventurous ride…” —Kirkus Reviews

 “Terrific plot! And Buddy Lock is a cop protagonist that’s a delightful departure from the norm. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Next of Kin.” —Mike Lawson, author of the Joe DeMarco thrillers

"Gripping from its opening lines, Next of Kin is a white-knuckle page-turner, where ruthless power, murder, and crimes hidden for generations create an intricate, utterly absorbing tale. The life of a vulnerable young boy hangs in the balance, and Detective Buddy Lock must find the killer before it's too late. Simply a fantastic read." —Marya Hornbacher, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Wasted, The Center of Winter and Madness


About the author:  James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |

Next of Kin  by James Tucker
Detective Buddy Lock Mysteries, Book 1
Thomas & Mercer
October 17, 2017 
Trade Paperback ISBN: 9781542045667
E-book ISBN: 9781542095662

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

Title: Blood Wedding
Author: Pierre Lemaitre
Published: June 2016, MacLehose Press Quercus
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Sophie Duguet--young, successful, and happily married--thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she'd parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she'd said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn't remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams. 

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong. 

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she'll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Pierre LeMaitre...but it definitely will not be the last! This was one crazy, insane, twisted psychological thriller - it totally had me on edge throughout and I enjoyed every minute of crazy as that sounds!

This book is so twisted...I can't stress that enough! From the clever way it's told to the story itself - it totally gets under your skin. It even has that claustrophobic, paranoia feel to it at times. But that being said, it's also really hard to write this review without giving anything away, so forgive me for being vague - I certainly do not want to reveal any spoilers...this is one book where the less you know going into it the better!

I loved the way this story was told. You get to know Sophie first and you start to feel that she's a bit crazy. But you also feel a little bad for her that things go so wrong for her. I admit I was a bit confused as to what was going on here in this section...I couldn't wait to see what was coming next! Then in the second part, you meet someone else...and slowly the pieces start to come together. What I really loved about this part is that now the story goes from narrative to journal entries - it just gets more engaging and addictive!

I'm telling you, you will be hard-pressed to put this book down once you start reading it! Between the craziness of what is going on, the addictive story-telling, and the big twist halfway through - I was utterly hooked!  And as much as we get answers in the second part, there are still questions to be answered. And we do get them...eventually, but not before Lemaitre ramps up the fear and terror just enough to have you sitting on the edge of your seat, jumping at the slightest sound you hear. This book will have you watching over your back and making sure you aren't being followed for quite some time after you finish reading it...I know I did! 

As I mentioned before, this is my first experience reading Pierre LeMaitre but it certainly will not be my last. I already have his newest book, Three Days and a Life, on my shelf to read...but I definitely plan on adding his other books to my reading list as well! Have you read his books? If so, what are your favorites and which do you recommend I start with?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Short & Sweet Review: The Lost Boy by Camilla Lackberg (audio)

Title: The Lost Boy
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Series: Patrik Hedstrom/Fjallbacka, #7
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: October 2016, Blackstone Audio
Length: 12 hours 56 minutes
Source: Library

From internationally best-selling Swedish crime sensation Camilla Läckberg comes a new psychological thriller - irresistible for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø. 

Mats Sverin was Fjällbacka's financial director on a regeneration project worth millions. When he's found dead, detective Patrik Hedström must find answers. 

It seems Mats was a man who everybody liked yet nobody really knew - a man with something to hide. Is it just a coincidence that his high school sweetheart, Nathalie, has returned to the area? Does she know who Mats really was? 

Nathalie has her own secret. Something has forced her and her five-year-old son to flee to their remote family home on the Ghost Isle, where she'll shield her son from the evils of the world.

But as the murder investigation draws a blank, the police have to dig deeper - and before long, everyone's lives will be dragged into the light.
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: This is the 7th book in Camilla Lackberg's Fjallbacka/Patrik Hedstrom series and I just love this series. I was quite desperate to pick up this latest installment since the previous book ended with such a cliffhanger and I was not let down - this one picks up right where the last one left off, so everything is resolved and nothing is left hanging for too long. Thank goodness - I certainly didn't want to be left wondering for half the book!

I love getting caught up in the different mysteries and this one featured an island with a ghost story - a bit different and unique, but I did find myself completely wrapped up in it and wondering how it all tied in to the battered women's shelter and the new hotel. It's amazing the way these different threads all work their way together in the end! And once again there is the use of the past and present - I do love when Camilla is able to do that - it just seems to add a little extra to the story!

I continue to love the way Patrik handles his boss, Chief Melberg. It just cracks me up...he really has his number and just knows that if he doesn't give him just the right job, phrasing it just so, they will end up having a huge mess on their hands. It's quite comical, really! But, when it comes to his family life, Melberg really does step up - so I feel like I have this love/hate relationship with him. He's terrible at his job, but he's a giant teddy bear when it comes to his family.

There are so many good things about this series - each case is so intricately plotted and complex, and the character development continues to build with each installment. This is why I love reading series and why I try my best to read them in order whenever I can!

Audio thoughts: So it appears that just when I get used to Simon Vance as the narrator, this is the last book he narrates in this series...UGHHH!!!! How incredibly frustrating as a listener! Though I do have to say, I wasn't in love with Simon Vance narrating this series - I still wish the first narrator, David Thorn had continued on - now it appears that Robin Bowerman will be narrating the next 2 books, though they are not available on Audible (to US members at least) at this time. Hopefully they will be soon, as I would like to continue listening to this series...

Anyway, as far as this particular installment goes, Simon Vance did a good job. He was consistent with the voices from the previous book of those characters that continued on and his tone and pacing were good as well. 


Books in this series:  
  1. The Ice Princess
  2. The Preacher
  3. The Stonecutter
  4. The Stranger
  5. The Hidden Child
  6. The Drowning
  7. The Lost Boy
  8. Buried Angels
  9. The Ice Child


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