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review 2017-12-12 01:03
Review: Bad Sister by Sam Carrington
Bad Sister - Sam Carrington

Published by: Avon (5th October 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-0008200213

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:
Then
When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.

Now
Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night.
But some truths are better left alone . . .

 

Review:
I absolutely LOVED Sam's debut, Saving Sophie, so I'd been really looking forward to reading this, as soon as I'd finished reading that brilliant first book! I was really hoping Sam had lots more crackers up her sleeve and wouldn't suffer 'second album syndrome' (music is my first love!) You know, when a band has a phenomenal first album and then their second is sadly lacking that certain something that made you sit up and take notice? Anyway...I digress...and a cracker this certainly is! It's on fire!

Bad Sister is full of rich, interesting characters that leap to life off the page. Connie is fascinating and I want to go to the pub with her! Lindsay Wade is another great character, and I adore the way her and Connie interact. I hope they appear again in future books by this author as I'd love to see their relationship develop further.

The case itself is complex and disturbing and there are more than a few shocks, twists and turns, including one right at the end, which made me gasp out loud! There is plenty to get your teeth into, with flashbacks told via 'then', and present day events via various viewpoints. There is a lot going on here, but with the author's skilful writing, there's no chance to get confused; you're led exactly where you're meant to be.

Had me on the edge of my seat, got my pulse racing, and kept me guessing...ticked every box!
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks to Avon and Sam Carrington.

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review 2017-12-11 22:41
A morally ambiguous thriller and a story of tainted friendships that will appeal to readers of King’s It.
The Chalk Man: A Novel - Tasha Tudor

Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin UK for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

This story, told in two different time frames by Eddie Adams (known as Eddie Munster as a child, because all the friends had nicknames and somehow the Munsters and the Adams became conflated into one…), has all the elements fans of mysteries and thrillers love. Strange characters, plenty of secrets, red herrings and false clues, lies, many suspects, a slightly odd setting, bizarre murders, strange relationships… A murder involving bizarre circumstances (a chopped-up body with a missing head, strange chalk drawings…) took place in a small and picturesque UK city (it sounds small enough to be a town, but as it has a cathedral, it is a city) in 1986 (although there were other strange things that happened at the time too, coincidental or not), and became known as the Chalk-Man murder. Thirty years later someone starts asking questions and stirring things up. Eddie narrates, in the first-person, the events, including his memories of what happened when he was a teenager and also telling us what is happening now. Those of you who read my blog know I have a thing for unreliable narrators, and, well, Eddie is a pretty good one. He is an English high school teacher and seems fairly reliable and factual in his account, and he does a great job of making us feel the emotions and showing us (rather than telling us) the events; although slowly he starts revealing things about himself that make him less standard and boring, and slightly more intriguing. Eddie does not have all the information (it seems that the friends kept plenty of things from each other as children), and sometimes he is unreliable because of the effect of alcohol, and possibly his mental state (his father suffered early dementia and he is concerned that he might be going down the same path). But there are other things at play, although we don’t fully get to know them until the very end.

The story reminded me of Stephen King’s It, most of all because of the two time-frames and of the story of the children’s friendship, although the horror element is not quite as strong (but there are possible ghosts and other mysterious things at play), and the friends and their friendship is more suspect and less open. In some ways, the depiction of the friend’s relationship, and how it changes over time, is more realistic. Of course, here the story is told from Eddie’s point of view, and we share in his likes and dislikes, that are strongly coloured by the events and his personal opinions. The main characters are realistically portrayed (both from a child’s perspective and later from an adult one), complex, and none of them are totally good, or 100% likeable, but they are sympathetic and not intentionally bad or mean (apart from a couple of secondary characters but then… there is a murderer at work). Morality is ambiguous at best, and people do questionable things for reasons that seem fully justified to them at the time, or act without thinking of the consequences with tragic results. I am not sure I felt personally engaged with any of the characters (perhaps because of Eddie’s own doubts), but I liked the dubious nature of the narration, and the fact that there were so many unknowns, so many gaps, and that we follow the process of discovery up-close, although there are things the main character knows that are only revealed very late in the game (although some he seems to have buried and tried hard to forget). The parents, and secondary characters, even when only briefly mentioned, serve the purpose well, add a layer of complexity to the story and are consistent throughout the narration.

The mystery had me engaged, and the pieces fit all together well, even when some of them are not truly part of the puzzle. I can’t say I guessed what had happened, although I was suspicious of everyone and, let’s say I had good reason to be. I liked the ending, not only the resolution of the mystery but what happens to Eddie. If you read it, you’ll know what I mean.

The writing is fluid, it gives the narrator a credible voice, it gets the reader under the character’s skin, and it creates a great sense of place and an eerie atmosphere that will keep readers on alert. The story deals with serious subjects, including child abuse, bullying (and sexual abuse), dementia, and although it is not the most graphically violent story I have read, it does contain vivid descriptions of bodies and crime scenes, and it definitely not a cozy mystery and not for the squeamish reader.

A great new writer, with a very strong voice and great ability to write psychological thrillers, and one I hope to read many more novels by. 

 

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review 2017-11-17 17:11

 

 

Book Description:  

Are you my mummy?’

 

Tessa Markham returns home to find a child in her kitchen. He thinks she’s his mother. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the little boy is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa is suspected of taking the mystery child. Her whole life is turned upside down. And then her husband reveals a secret of his own…

Tessa isn’t sure what to believe or who to trust. Because someone is lying. To find out who, she must first confront her painful past. But is the truth more dangerous than Tessa realises?

An absolutely unputdownable psychological thriller with a twist that will make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. If you loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Trainand The Sister this book is for you.

 

 

My Review:  I enjoyed reading this fast-paced thriller which kept me glued to every page.  Shalini Boland did a great job expressing in detail what the main character was feeling and going through I couldn't help to feel compassion.  I took joy in seeing the main character's growth from just going through the motions in life to becoming strong and taking control.  The other characters' contribution to the story were traits of selfishness, ignorance, doubt and empathy.

 

The Secret Mother flowed effortlessly.  It was very easy to follow along with every twist and turn and the short chapters were a bonus.  When I thought I had the story figured out, something else happens.  

 

I recommend The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland to lovers of psycholoical thrillers.  It was hard to put down.  This is the first time I've read her work and I will definitely read more.

 

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC.

 

 

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review 2017-11-09 17:44
Disturbed
Disturbed - Jennifer Minar-Jaynes

By: Jennifer Jaynes

ISBN:  1542046386

Publisher:  Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date:  11/7/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  4 Stars  (ARC)

 

Talented Jennifer Jaynes returns following The Stranger Inside with her latest twisty psychological thriller DISTURBED — a gritty fast-paced standalone page-turner, both chilling and emotional with a mind-blowing conclusion. 

“You Made Me.” 

Those were the words on Nov 1, 2010, the morning after Halloween. Three women who attended Springfield College. 911 was called. The young officer Brandon was the first responder. 

One girl was left alive in the tub. Multiple stab wounds. One of them deep in the side of her abdomen. Blood everywhere. 

Now, Oct 4, 2015 —Four years and eleven months later. 
Twenty-three-year-old Chelsea Dutton is safe and sane. She is still paranoid and fearful. No one is out to get her. Not anymore. These words had been her mantra for almost five years. 

The Halloween night that her college roommates (Christine and Amy) had been murdered and she had been carved up and left for dead.

Since then, she had merely existed. She had been diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia, which made life even more confusing and frightening.

There were no guarantees whether she would recover any of her lost memories. A few had come back over the years but nothing of real significance. A flash here, and there. Some scents and settings brought back some memories of the horrible night.

Her biological parents had been dead since she was six years old. There were a long string of foster families whom she had lived with until she turned eighteen and started college.

The night of the murders clung to her. 

There had been a boy, Ethan whom Chelsea had invited and his roommate Boyd. Ethan was from a wealthy family. He was gorgeous. What caused him to start the brutal killings?

She had left Springfield and moved ninety miles east of Boston after the murders. She would be safer there. However, she had wondered why he had spared her. Would he return to finish the job?

She did not want to play the victim anymore. 

Chelsea has a close friend Elizabeth. She had been her salvation. They had met nearly five years ago in the Springfield psychiatric hospital where Chelsea had been held for three months after following the attacks. 

Elizabeth had been one of the nurses assigned to her pod. She was older, but they had stayed connected and when she had transferred to a Boston hospital, Chelsea tagged along. With her scars, she had a fresh start. Elizabeth was her rock. 

When she runs into Boyd she thinks it may be nice to be around someone who was there that night. Even though Elizabeth was great, she was intimated by her. With Boyd, she was on more of an even playing field. 

However, shortly afterward, there is a message left at a murder scene with the same message. Lang (detective) takes up temporary residence at a motel in Southie. 

He remembered Boyd. The kid had been a drug user. He is determined to solve the case. Was it Ethan? Why come back to torment Chelsea now after all these years?

Who was the message meant for? One of the victims? Were the killings retribution for something? Motive? 

Another message: “You’re going to make me do it again, aren’t you”?

Detectives Lang and Garcia are on the case and Chelsea is worried her attacker is back. Who can she trust?

Halloween, the fifth anniversary of the murders, takes on a new twist. Who is really the killer (then and now)? Or is there something more dark and sinister at play?

As always, Jaynes keeps her readers in suspense with twists and turns. A thrilling ride to very dark places of the human psyche. Disturbing, intense, and suspenseful to the final mind-blowing shocking conclusion. 

From beginning to end, Jennifer creates a sense of foreboding, paranoia, fear, distrust, and lurking darkness. You know there is something beneath the surface. 

Chelsea is a complex character. She continues to live with the consequences of her violent and painful past, which continue to plague her. However, is she an unreliable narrator? 

As a reader, you will question everyone. 

The author does an exceptional job in keeping you glued to the pages. She knows how to emotionally hook the reader. Without any spoilers . . . nothing is as it appears. Jaynes’ fans will enjoy another twisty, edgy psychological thriller to add to their collection.

Highly recommend all of the author's books. She never disappoints. For fans of James Hankins, Jennifer Hillier, and Lisa Unger. 

Read my reviews here: 
The Stranger Inside 
Don’t Say a Word 
Ugly Young Thing 
Never Smile at Strangers 

A special thank you to the author, NetGalley, and Thomas & Mercer for an advanced reading copy.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

#1 USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Jaynes graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and a certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

 

She made her living as a content manager, webmaster, news publisher, medical assistant, editor, publishing consultant, and copywriter before finally living her dream as a full-time novelist. Jennifer is the author of Never Smile at Strangers, Don’t Say a Word, Ugly Young Thing, and The Stranger Inside.

 

When she’s not writing or spending time with her husband and twin boys, Jennifer loves reading, cooking, and studying nutrition.

 

Visit Jennifer at www.jenniferjaynes.net.  Read More 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/06/07/Disturbed
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review 2017-11-02 22:20
Stillhouse Lake
Stillhouse Lake - Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake Series #1

By: Rachel Caine

ISBN: 978-1477848661

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 7/1/2017 

Format: Kindle

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

WOW! STILLHOUSE LAKE by Rachel Caine is A riveting heart-pounding psychological thriller . . . My first book by the author and anxiously awaiting #2! What an incredible writer - an addictive, deliciously evil new series. I can see this playing out on Amazon Video. 

Meet Gina Royal from Wichita, Kansas. 

Gina never asked about the garage. That thought would keep her awake every night for years. “I should have asked. Should have known. But she had never asked. She didn’t know. In the end, that was what destroyed her.

Her husband, Mel was charming. Their children Brady and Lily. That day, her husband called with an emergency. She needed to pick up the kids. Mel loved their family life. His second-favorite thing: wood-working in his shop. More than wood-working going down in the garage. 

“Normal life. Comfortable life. Not perfect, of course. Nobody had a perfect marriage, did they? But Gina was satisfied at least most of the time.”

However, that day when she arrived home there were police cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck. Their mailbox. Their lawn. Their house. 

An SUV had crashed into their garage. (Mel’s workshop). Before she knew what was happening Detective Salazar was arresting her. 

They were victims. Someone had crashed into their home. Why were the cops mistreating her in front of her own children? This had to be a mistake. Embarrassing. The neighbors were taking videos. They would be uploaded to the internet.

Handcuffs. This could not be happening. She could not understand why someone was driving drunk and now she is being arrested.

The garage. The cops wondered if she knew about the garage. She does not park in the garage. Her husband was going to be upset.

However, the detective wants her to explain the life-size naked doll hanging from a hook in the center of the garage. Except, it was not a doll. It was real.

The day her life changed forever. Her husband was a serial killer.

Fast forward four years later. 

Gwen Proctor and her children are living at Stillhouse Lake in Tennessee. Since leaving Wichita, they have changed their identity four times. The weak creature she had left behind. One who had aided and abetted; however, unconsciously. That woman is long dead and she does not mourn her.

Her kids are now Connor and Atlanta (Lanny for short). She has tried to keep them safe from predators and all the hate mail. Their father was a monster. The “good” father with a mask. 

If it had not been for the drunk driver, their lives would have gone on the same. It was her fault his true depth of evil had been finally unmasked. He had taken out a storage locker in the name of her long-dead brother. The journal. Each victim had a section.

From abduction, torture, murder. The man will kill again. 

There had been a trial. All the women. Mel had infected her like a virus. Then there was the hacker which goes by the name of Absalom. But he helped with the false identities. Finding them safe havens. He controls the online harassment. Strictly business. She pays him. 

Ugly, cruel things about her and her children online. Like they had known was a monster Mel was. She keeps a gun. She will not let anyone hurt her kids or her ever again. Alarms, computers, security systems, burner phones. Their lives are spent looking over their shoulders. She is committed to their survival. 

Absalom communicates with them (computer guy). Her husband writes letters. There is a mailing address elsewhere. How does he know where she is?

He writes from prison. He describes what he will do to her if given the chance. He’s inventive. Descriptive. Repellently direct. Mel is a contagious, fatal disease.

People think she is guilty. His hobby. The garage. Little did she know what he was doing in the garage and what he was hiding. She knew he used bleach, but it was always a logical reason. She had believed every word. 

Then there is a murder at Stillhouse Lake. 

The rustic retreat. Upper-middle-class families. Second homes. A woman weighed down. The description sounds familiar to Mel’s victims. Does it have anything to do with Mel’s crimes? Murder practically at her front door? 

She owes her children a stable upbringing and safety. From trading cars to houses, always on the move. 

 




Mel had liked his stupid games. “Breath Play.” Cords around her neck. She hated it. She had seen something dark. She had refused. He had never choked her hard enough to pass out, but close. Little did she know while he was starving her for oxygen during sex, he was imagining his women in the garage, fighting the noose as he raised and lowered them off the ground. 

He was using her to play out his murders. Chilling and sickening. 

Now she had to protect her family with more than a gun. Mentally, emotionally, and logically. She cannot trust anyone. She must break the trail. 

Sam Cade. He is new to town. He is supposed to do some work on the house. They both have secrets.

She has money that was Mel’s escape money. The inheritance from his parents’ estate; in the storage shed. It had been a year before she was acquitted. She had spent it on their safety, shelter, and identities before Stillhouse Lake. For their new life. 

Slowly she learns to trust Sam Cade and her son likes him. Even Lanny (with her goth and edge). Her son wants to be an architect so he and Sam hit it off. She wants to fall for this guy, but she is cautious. However, does he have a hidden agenda? 

Gina has a mailing service. Mel writes her. He has seen her and Sam at the lake house. How is this possible?

She must go to the prison and confront the monster. 

From Javier, Sam, Absalom, Lance Graham, Detective Prester— who can she trust? Enemy or ally? 

“Mel is worse than a monster. He’s a smart monster. Mel disposed of women in the water. Now, one trusts her. 

Another dead girl found floating in the lake.

People are learning about her past. She will be arrested and she will lose her kids. Her murdering ex-husband. Who is doing this? Who else is keeping secrets? Does Gwen (Gina) have a stalker?Has she fallen for a serial killer twice? 

Now there are horrible words on their windows. A life she cannot escape. She has to fix it. But how. The safe room. Threats. Has Mel broken out of death row and someone made his way to Stillhouse Lake without a soul seeing him? 

Someone has her kids. . . She needs help, but who can she trust? 

 




The suspense is riveting! Nerve-racking, heart-pounding! Does Mel have followers? (Mel reminds me of Joe Carroll - The Following - when watching I have to keep one eye closed)

Highly recommend the audiobook narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith (Narrator) for an outstanding and entertaining performance. I purchased the book and audio version.

I can see why STILLHOUSE LAKE has received rave reviews and included in the Goodreads Opening Round of Best Mystery and Thriller as well as climbing the Amazon charts.

So excited to receive an ARC of #2 Stillhouse Lake, Killman Creek (currently reading), coming Dec 12, 2017. For fans of psychological thrillers—compelling, well-written, and twisty plots. Love the covers and titles. 

With #2, we catch up with Gwen. Mel has escaped from prison with the warning: “You’re not safe anywhere now.”

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 

KILLMAN CREEK  

Stillhouse Lake Series #2

By: Rachel Caine

ISBN:  1542046416

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 12/12/2017 

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: Currently Reading (ARC)

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

 

You’re not safe anywhere now.

 

Pre-Order Now 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/06/01/Stillhouse-Lake
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