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review 2017-11-18 09:30
Little Broken Things
Little Broken Things: A Novel - Nicole Baart

By:  Nichole Baart

ISBN: 1501133608

Publisher:  Atria 

Publication Date:  11/21/2017 

Format: Paperback  

My Rating:  5 Stars (ARC)

 

A compelling multi-layered story of family, LITTLE BROKEN THINGS by talented Nichole Baart —a beautifully written story of secrets of the past, motherhood, and sacrifices. Those desperately trying to protect those secrets. 

Triumph over tragedy. Loss, hope, and forgiveness. 

Set in Minnesota the Sanford family. Two estranged sisters, Quinn and Nora. They have never been close and Quinn is shocked when she receives a cryptic text message from her older sister Nora.

Nora shows up with a six-year-old girl. Her name is Lucy. (Everlee) She instructs her sister to keep her safe and not mention the child to anyone. Particularly their overbearing mother, Liz.

Quinn is married to an artist. Nora always thought her sister was the perfect one. Quinn was the beauty of the family and JJ was the brains – where did Nora fit in? 

Turns out Nora was the whole package: whip-smart and lovely, bighearted and wise. She is hiding a secret. Who is she protecting?

Quinn does not understand where this child came from and why is Nora leaving her in her care? Everyone wants answers. 

They must protect the child. Slowly the family mystery is unraveled and the parentage of Lucy. 

Told from three POV with highly charged topics. When nothing is as it appears. A family hiding behind a façade.

Haunting and heartbreaking, the painful past is revealed. A tragedy turns into something beautiful, bonding a family from the sins of the past. 

Powerful, emotional, and suspenseful. Love and friendship. An inside look at a family. A relationship between a mother and two sisters. The lengths one sister will go to protect the ones she loves. 

 



“Broken things are the loveliest.” —Sara Teasdale

For fans of domestic suspense and authors Amy Hatvany, Karma Brown, Joshilyn Jackson, and Heather Gudenkauf.

“We are all broken—that’s how the light gets in.”― Ernest
Hemingway


My first book by the author and looking forward to reading more. Would encourage you to read more about the author on her website! 

Impressive. Truly, her stories celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and beauty in the midst of brokenness. 

A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/06/Little-Broken-Things
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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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review 2017-10-26 07:36
The Ghostwriter
The Ghostwriter - Alessandra Torre

By:  Alessandra Torre

ISBN: 1940941946

Publisher:  DCA

Publication Date:10/2/2017 

Format: Paperback

My Rating:  5 Stars ++

 

WOW! THE GHOSTWRITER is the author's best yet! 

Alessandra Torre has found her groove! Please, more of this genre-contemporary fiction. (Listen to your character's advice). A ripping riveting drama, domestic suspense, thriller, literary fiction, plus much more. 

A perfect husband. A perfect daughter. A perfect lie. Simon is gone. Bethany is gone. She is alone. 

Bestselling romance author, Helena Ross (age 32) is dying.Cancer. She has three months to live. She has no friends and no family to speak of. An empty house. 

“I have only this countdown, a dark ominous chant of days, sunrises and sunsets before my body gives up and my mind shuts down.”

She has a story which needs to be told. The truth. One which she has avoided for the last four years.

Helena does not have decades. She does not have years. Three months. The deadline is the tightest she has ever faced. Three months to write a story that deserves years.

. . . "I've always been a liar. Maybe that's why writing came so naturally. A thousand lies, disguised in a character's voice, bits of my life sprinkled through the pages, the perfect camouflage for whatever it is I feel the urge to say."

She notifies Kate, her agent of thirteen years she is retiring. No more outstanding deadlines. She wants to walk away from all her commitments. She wants to write a new book with a different editor. The hottest editor in publishing. 

"There is something soothing about the act of writing, a drug that lures you into another world, but then forgets to stop, and sometimes carries you all of the way into sleepdom."

This editor does not do romance. Helena has no outline. Everyone will need to trust her. 

She needs a ghostwriter. 

Not just any ghostwriter. She wants her arch-enemy, Marka Vantly (pen name). International bestselling author. She hates her. She would almost rather die than ask her. Helena needs her. She is terrified of her. 

This will be no normal manuscript. Once the story is written it will be real. She will be exposed. Two thousand words a day. One million dollars. 

An impossible task. However, Helena is determined. She knows the writer who writes smut; deep down, a highly talented author and one which will be able to help write her story. 

However, she never thought that possibly contemporary fiction with heart, may not sell as well as the smut. She cannot imagine an author hating the novels they spend months writing. Ones they do not respect. 

Kate, nor anyone would understand why this book was so important. The most critical book of her career. She cannot die with this book unwritten. Word count is her everything.The truths buried among her bones. It needs to come out. The real truth. 

She is fearful of how her final novel will come across. She is terrified, yet almost giddy with liberation. Soon her final story will come out, and everyone will know the truth. Life and death. 

However, her ghostwriter may prove to be the one person to get her through her dying days. In the process, they may learn something from one another. Her agent may see a side of her she has never seen. 

Instead of "entertaining" like her usual books. This final book would be both her punishment and her absolution. 

Loved the Epilogue! 

The relationship with THE GHOSTWRITER is as equally powerful as Helena's story. Raw, emotional, heart wrenching, and touching - we hear from Kate, Helena, and Mark’s POV. 

Intense, riveting, and suspenseful. Readers will not know how or why the deaths occurred until later in the book, as her story unravels — writing each chapter and hands off to THE GHOSTWRITER. You know Helena carries guilt. She has pushed everyone away, until now. 

Get out the Kleenex. "How quickly a life can change."

Torre is dynamite! The writing is superb. I would not change "one" word. A must-read for every writer, author, publicist, and reader out there today. 

THE GHOSTWRITER is on my Top Books of 2017!. Readers, you will have a new respect for authors. I cannot imagine how difficult this was to write. 

Buy this book now! You will not be able to put it down. Award-winning. A big turning point for this author. If this is a beta test, then scratch the test and go for it, Torre. Top of the chart's quality. This is my kind of book and hits all the spots. This is the "real deal" and she is a master! Ultimately no sleep, but it was worth every single word. 

Poignant, beautifully written, lyrical, raw, soul-searching, suspenseful, emotional, and heartbreaking. 

I was hanging on every word. Tried to go to bed about 4 am and could not sleep thinking about Helena. Had to know what happened. The suspense and intensity . . . so back up, espresso in hand and dove back in until the final heart-pounding conclusion. This is a true test of how absorbing a great novel should be. 

At 90% this scene was intense. Readers will be dying to know the circumstances surrounding Simon and Bethany. I bookmarked so many pages; it is one of the most highlighted books I have ever read. THE GHOSTWRITER would be perfect for a TV mini-series. 

Younger TV Series would love this one (could you imagine??) . . . Ideal for book clubs and further discussions. I am not an erotica or romance fan; however, I am a lover of this genre. Hits on all cylinders. The author has a God-given talent for intimate words and gut-wrenching feelings of the heart. 

I loved the Deanna Madden (suspense-psychological thriller) series; however, THE GHOSTWRITER to me is so far beyond her other books, and really allows the author to really showcase her writing. She shines without the sex, erotica, romance, and violence. THE GHOSTWRITER opens up an entirely new reader base for her (more my style). 

For fans of Jo Jo Moyes, Colleen Hoover, Liane Moriarty, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Amy Hatvany, and Renee Carlino . . . with Torre's unique unstoppable witty style. 

For some reason, I am strongly reminded of Blake Crouch's Good Behavior. Even though different, two unlikely souls find strength, clarity, and redemption in one another. A huge Mark fan! 

OMG . . . I have Helena's list on my door too— for the last two years. Laminated and regular. (too funny). 

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/09/13/The-Ghost-Writer
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review 2017-09-24 20:17
The Blackbird Season
The Blackbird Season - Kate Moretti

By:  Kate Moretti 

ISBN: 9781501118456

Publisher: Atria 

Publication Date: 9/26/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4.5 Stars 

 
Kate Moretti returns following The Vanishing Year, landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016, with her latest THE BLACKBIRD SEASON – a scandal rocks a town with dark chilling secrets. An emotionally charged exploration of a family and community in crisis.

Haunting, complex, twisty, mysterious, and suspenseful — Moretti style. 

The whodunit suspense will keep you glued to the pages. The excellent writing, well-developed characters, and crafty plot will keep you entertained and absorbed. 

“The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying." —from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, Wallace Stevens

Nate Winters and his wife Alecia are well respected in the small quiet town of Mount Oanoke, Pennsylvania. A dying mill town, the people living in this small community have their struggles. Baseball is one highlight of their town.

Nate is a math teacher and baseball coach, well loved by all. A hero to many. Alecia, a former career woman, is now a stay at home mom with their 5-year-old autistic son, Gabe.

Things are quite tense in their relationship, marriage, and household. Of course, with Gabe, her plate is full. Alecia is consumed with his care and often resentful of her husband who spends time at school and on the ballfield helping others. 

She is miserable, bitter, angry, and sad. She has little time left over for her husband with a special needs child. Her only friend is Bridget. 

Told from alternating points of view: Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget. 
 

Bridget is a creative writing teacher at the school and a co-worker of Nate. She believes in him. She lost her husband to cancer the previous year. They had all been good friends. Of course, as teachers of high school students, a difficult task; there is always drama—they are self-absorbed glued to their phones, or bullying someone. 

Lucia is a senior at the high school. She is an eccentric teen, loner and everyone thinks is weird. A witch? A difficult childhood. She is in a writing class led by Bridget. Bridget feels uncomfortable with Lucia. She has no friends. She writes of death and dying. 

“Lucia tackled pain and death clinically, a biology lab dissection. She sees birds. She says they come to her and she knows bad things will happen.” Entries in her journal.

She is exotic with unsettling beauty. Crazy white hair, black-rimmed eyes, and red lips. She has a brother, Lenny, and dropout and a father Jimmy who had skipped town. Is she evil? She has obsessions with blackbirds, ravens, and crows. She reaches out to Nate for help.

How could this pillar of the community— father, husband, teacher, leader, and friend —Nate, find himself in trouble? He would be fired. Everyone would call him a murderer. They would accuse him of an affair. OR a student who came on to Nate and he rejected her —set out for revenge?

A thousand starlings fell from the sky. Not fluttering to the earth, but plummeting. Hard and fast in the middle of the third inning of the opening day at Mt. Oaknoke High field. 

Then the pandemonium. A cloud of blackbirds, thousands of them. The entire thing lasted less than three minutes. 911 was called, and everyone wondered where they came from. Why did they fall? What did it mean? 

After the falling which everyone thinks is a bad omen, everything bad begins happening. Nate is accused of having an affair. A motel. A reporter. He is fired. Did Nate have a flair for girls in need or was he innocent? A girl goes missing. Fingers are pointed.

A marriage and a town are torn apart. However, is Nate to blame or someone else? Is he being set up and if so whom? Is Lucia a victim or menace? An intriguing character. 

A slow-burning gripping tale, both haunting, spellbinding, and disturbing. 

A cautionary suburban crime story sprinkled with supernatural elements. The unsettling atmosphere gives a strong sense of fearful apprehension or darkness lurking. Foreboding, suspicion, and unease —a feeling that something bad will happen; a dark cloud. 

What lies beneath those dark clouds? 

Moretti delves deep into the lives of these flawed characters. Loss and danger—an ongoing theme. From the loss of a spouse, marriage, love, job, trust, and a town. From teens to adults. Bullying. Everyone has an opinion. With an array of emotions. Jealousy and obsession. 

Marriage, parenting, infidelity. Expectations. The wide variation in challenges, strains, and strengths of a special needs child with autism; the complex developmental disability, and the caregivers. The strains it can bring to a marriage. 

Guilt or Innocence. Good or Evil. Black and white magic. From malicious acts to loyalty and friendship. Self-discovery or destruction. Denial or obsession. A compelling complex book of contrasts, relationships, and expectations with shades of gray. 

The symbolic meaning of blackbirds is eternally linked to the "dark vs light" phases of the moon similar to the character’s lives. Blackbirds and birds of black or dark colors are special among their airy clan as they are symbolic of mystery, magic, secrets, and the unknown. 

The blackbird teaches you how to acknowledge your power and use it to its fullest. While the crow or blackbird can play the trickster, they are usually benevolent and bring news of good passage and protection.

The condition of the town with its ups and downs and tragedy, as well as the claustrophobic, toxic, bleak, and creepy outlook— also parallels to the character’s lives. Would make for an ideal selection for book clubs and further discussions. 

Fans of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, Paula Treick Deboard, T. Greenwood, and Lisa Scottoline’s One Perfect Life(also set in Pennsylvania), will enjoy this emotional thriller. 

THE BLACKBIRD SEASON also gave me the chills (psychologically) as so, when watching The Birds, (a 1963 American horror-thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock) as a child—this one did give me nightmares for weeks. 

Would love to learn more about the author’s inspiration for this unique book. Hats off to the author for courageously tackling this storyline with so many moving parts. Hint: (an interview Q&A is in order). 

A very special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 4.5 Stars 

Have also pre-ordered the Audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell (My favorite narrator), Gibson Frazier, Joy Osmanski, Rebekah Ross. Look forward to listening!

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 

 

 

About the Author

 

 

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of  Thought I Knew You, While You Were Gone, and Binds That Tie. Her newest novel, The Vanishing Year will be available fall 2016. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life. 

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway. Read More  

 
 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/02/The-Blackbird-Season
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review 2017-09-19 15:42
Lies She Told
Lies She Told - Cate Holahan

By:  Cate Holahan 

ISBN: 9781683312956

Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: 9/12/2017 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan is a dark and twisty mind-bending thriller with more than one unreliable narrator. 

On almost every page, this imaginative psychological thriller forces the reader to reconsider what is real. A book within a book when the lines of fact and fiction are blurred.

“The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.” — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Notebook H 

Manhattan author Liza, (of romantic suspense) is under extreme pressure with her upcoming novel. 

Trevor, a forty-two-year-old (editor) is telling a thirty-five-year-old woman in the middle of her target audience demographic, what her peers want in the sack. He thinks he knows trends. 

Alternating between Liza’s POV in the real world, and Beth (the protagonist) in Liza’s novel. Needless to say, both these ladies lives are complex. 

"Blurring fact and fantasy is my trade. I am a con artist. A prevaricator. I make up stories." So why does he think this one is real? 

David Jacobson, husband of twelve years. Nick Landau, David’s law partner is missing. Nick never liked Liza.

Liza and David have been unable to conceive. Both the anxiety of this plus her writing deadlines push her to get lost in her characters. Their marriage is strained. 

. . . She does not invent her characters. She steals them from her surroundings. To be a writer is to be a life thief. Every day she robs herself blind.

"It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place." —Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major

As the pressure of the deadlines mounts, Liza becomes immersed in her heroine. Unfaithful? Murder?

Is she writing about her own life? 

Beth has a new baby and her husband, Jake is a prosecutor. He is cheating, while she is home taking care of the baby. The sexy officer, Colleen. The psychiatrist, Tyler, and an old friend.

Will both stories lead to murder? The lines are blurred. 

Who is telling the truth? Who is not? Two stories intertwined.

The author cleverly draws readers into a world where truth blends with delusion, plus more. . . 

Dark, twisty, and sinister grip-lit. The author keeps the reader on its toes while switching from fact and fiction while questioning every move. 

Chilling, unique, intriguing, and disturbing, LIES SHE TOLD, will keep readers turning the pages. With all the books about LIES these days, this one definitely takes a distinctive spin. 

A special thank you to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for an early reading digital copy. 

I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Amy McFadden and Lisa Larsen, for a captivating performance.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/05/12/Lies-She-Told
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