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review 2017-09-26 06:59
The Surrogate
The Surrogate: A gripping psychological thriller with an incredible twist - Louise Jensen

By: Louise Jensen


Publisher:  Bookouture

Publication Date: 9/27/2017 

Format: Kindle 

My Rating: 5 Stars ++


Louise Jensen is on a roll! Three hits in a row—quite the accomplishment. Her passion shines through. The author’s previous two books reached #1 in the UK and abroad (if you have not heard). 

The thriller queen returns following The Gift on my Top Books of 2016 and The Sister (2016) with her latest THE SURROGATE — her best yet! 

NOTE to readers: PS. I continue to say, "I am going to keep my reviews short." That way I can write many more reviews. Right? However, when I get started they seem to go on and on. If you do not feel like reading them; my feelings will not be hurt. Just take my advice, and buy the book. Judge for yourself. I think you will find, there is much to be discussed. The good ones always are. If you spend time reading a book, why not spend just as much time writing a review? 

Talk about "unreliable" narrator (s) ! These guys are pros. The author keeps you guessing until the final explosive conclusion with one last jab . . . and turns the knife a little more. A killer twist. 

If you think this is the same ordinary surrogate story? The surrogate tries to keep the baby. Wife disappointed. Husband runs off with the surrogate. . . . "No, think again." Much more complex and multi-layered. 

The reader does not know which character they can trust. The characters do not trust one another. 

Complex with a Capital “C”. Each character has a secret past and as the novel progresses, skeletons come out of the closet— one by one .... Unraveling. You gasp and say, "WTH?" 

This book is high anxiety and happened to be reading it in the middle of a hurricane, which only accelerated the intensity. The author creates clever twists (her master signature style) and keeps you on your toes.

Guilt, loyalty, revenge, love, trust, betrayal, and hate. 

An array of emotions. Who is the real guilty party, or is it a combination of people? One wrong action and turn— causes a domino effect. Do you really know your friends and your spouse? 

“So many lives ruined. What was one more?”

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh. If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” — William Shakespeare




As the book opens there is a reporter. There are two bodies. A double murder? 

Meet Kat and Nick. From then to now. 

Overall they seem like a nice ordinary couple. Charity work. They have been married for eight years. Stroke Support. A charity Nick set up with his best friend Richard after Richard's grandmother had a stroke. 

Kate had been a temp and this is how they met. They are set financially. She still works for them, while Richard is busy with his law firm and Nick has a property development company.

Kate wants a baby. Let me correct myself. She is "obsessed" with having a baby. She wants to be a mother. She is getting desperate and running out of patience. 

Nick, her husband says he wants one too, but you get a strong feeling, not with the same level of enthusiasm and burning desire, as his wife. Maybe just wants his wife to be happy. She, after all, cannot have children. He can. 

Their many attempts have been unsuccessful. From doctors, tests, to adoption agencies. Each time they get close, something falls through at the last minute. 

Enter Lisa. 

Lisa comes back into Kate’s life after a long absence. A childhood friend. They were BFFs. What happened to separate the two? Is she a friend harboring a grudge, perhaps? 

Can Kate trust her? Was this encounter planned or a by chance meeting? Fate? The two were great friends growing up but had a major falling out. We do not know in the earlier part of the book. A mystery. We know there was a car accident that rocked their small town and Kate ran away, leaving Lisa to deal with questions. 

One thing Kat knows for sure. It is approaching the 10th anniversary of Jake, her ex-boyfriend’s death. Has fate brought the once best friends back together? Good or bad?

Mistakes were made.

“We learn that Kate is a keeper of secrets. A guardian of the truth.” . . . You mustn’t tell Kate.” 

Lisa seems to have been the third wheel in their teen relationship. Very jealous of the relationship Kate had with Jake. Is there more to this story? You better believe it.

Lisa never wanted to be a mother. Kate is dying to be a mother. Lisa said she has been a surrogate previously, and it went well, leaving a seed planted in Kate’s mind. Is she genuine, or not?

Later an adoption falls through once again and Kate wonders, what if? Could this really work? Is surrogacy the answer? In the past, she never thought about this option, but Lisa? The person she has known her entire life. This could be a miracle. 

You know when you are desperate, you are not thinking clearly and weighing all the options. Desire clouds our thinking. 

However, from here on out, nothing is simple. What a roller coaster wild crazy ride. The psychological elements are slow burning to sizzling! 

Each reader will have theories about the murders. They will change throughout the book. Lisa is hiding her past. Kate is hiding her past. Now, Nick is definitely hiding his past.(Nick’s is a doozy). 

You do not expect this haunting tragedy. This poor guy cannot catch a break. However, in the present, he seems to have it together (to Kate, anyway). Kind of removed. Something is going on with him and he says work issues.

Kate is heartbroken about a past love. There was a car accident. She came from a very strict family, especially her dad. She lost her shot at motherhood, and love in one fatal night. Does she want revenge? She has never told Nick about her secrets. He has not shared his. 

You are dying to know, what happened! 

As a reader, you are also unsure about Lisa. Kate suspects something is not quite right with Lisa. She agrees to be a surrogate, but at times she appears to be hiding something. Kate is suspicious. She could ruin her life. 

Throw Richard in the mix. He is an attorney and best friend of Nick’s from childhood. Kate gets the feeling Richard does not like her. He always handles their adoption affairs. Can we trust him? Is he sabotaging their chances?

Kate soon realizes maybe her husband is not so keen on the idea of their upcoming baby. He seems withdrawn and she suspects he may be having an affair. Has she pushed him away with her overwhelming obsession? 

Lisa is acting strangely. Is Kate paranoid because she cannot control her own life? She is at the mercy of Lisa. The picture-perfect life she had planned seems to be falling apart. 

Who is lying? 

“Our version of the truth is pliable, we mold our reality to mask our lies, and sometimes it sounds so plausible we even convince ourselves.”

As the intense suspense builds all three characters’ lives finally intersect. Except wait a minute. It is not over until the fat lady sings. Just when you think it will end a certain way, BAM . . . an evil twist.

The Butterfly Effect: The butterfly effect is a concept that states "small causes can have larger effects".

If you have seen the movie The Butterfly: (2004) American psychological thriller supernatural fiction film starring, Ashton Kutcher. 

“The title refers to the butterfly effect, a popular hypothetical example of chaos theory which illustrates how small initial differences may lead to large unforeseen consequences over time.”

When you finish reading you will be speculating how different things could have been, if . . . These two are different in many ways but reminds me strongly of-Harlan Coben’s, mini-series, The Five (which I binge-watched this weekend on Netflix on my Kindle). Loved! Top-Notch. One mistake. Again, the butterfly effect. The Sinner is another example (loved this book and mini-series). 

People carry guilt their entire lives over certain things. However, we learn down the road there may have been other things, and persons and circumstances at play, which changed the course. 

Mind-boggling. However, this person may go through their entire life and never know how each small thing contributed to the tragedy, as well. This is where mysteries and missing persons go, unsolved and very intriguing. 

You've got to love books like this. I know I do. Heart-pounding. Enthralling! There are so many what-ifs. This is a prime example, as in the movie referenced and this book. Things we do in our teens, or as children. Small things lead to large unforeseen consequences. We live with them our entire lives. They will haunt, consume, and change the course of more than one life.

You want to reach out to our children, (my grandchildren). Be mindful of the small things. They can turn into large things. One wrong move can lead to disaster. 

A cautionary tale. This husband and wife both are troubled and damaged souls. However, they both keep their hidden secrets from one another. Could someone be a hero in the end? Redemption? 

Louise, you sure do know how to write a twisty complex tale with juicy dark secrets. When looking at the three main characters, not sure which one I am more shocked about. There are a few close ties here for vote for "most damaged." I mean, seriously.

Plus, we could hold an entire psychological discussion dissecting Kate’s dad and mom. 

No matter what surrogate stories you have read in the past, I can pretty much say, you will find NONE, like this one. It takes you by surprise. Grabs you.

Who is the real monster? Read, and discover. 

Shocking. Spine-tingling. A top psychological thriller.There is so much good stuff here. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions. 

Jensen is quickly becoming my top UK author. This book needs to be compared, rightly so to The Girl on the Train and then some. Top books of the year list. 5 Stars +++

Other things about the author (in addition to her fabulous storytelling), which provides her books an added edge. I love learning the inspiration behind the book. She is very good about doing this at the end of her books, as well as wonderful thought-provoking book club questions. 

THE SURROGATE is definitely movie-worthy, or a mini-series. Congrats, another hit under your belt. Don’t stop now.

Readers, If you loved Coben’s The Five, you will certainly enjoy The Surrogate. Ideal for fans of B.A. Paris, Wendy Walker, and Mary Kubica. 

A special thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an early reading copy. (great cover, as well)







About the Author


Louise Jensen is a No. 1 bestselling author of psychological thrillers. Her debut novel 'The Sister,' was published in July 2016 and reached No. 1 in the UK where it stayed for over 5 weeks, and it also hit No. 1 on the Canadian Amazon chart, No.1 in Apple's iBooks and is listed as a USA Today Bestseller. It was the 6th biggest selling book on Amazon in 2016.


'The Sister’ is a book about a grieving girl who thought there was nothing as frightening as being alone – she was wrong.


'The Gift' Louise's second book, was published in December and within a week of release gave Louise her second No. 1 in 2016 both in the UK, where it stayed for over a 5 weeks, was No. 1 in  Canada and is also a USA Today Bestseller. 


'The Gift' is a book about a perfect daughter and how a secret is eating her family alive...


To date Louise has sold over 700,00 books and her novels have been sold for translation in fifteen territories. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.


Louise also writes flash fiction, and features and articles for both magazines and online publications. Louise specialises in writing about mindfulness, chronic pain and mental health.  Read More





Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/06/02/The-Surrogate
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review 2017-09-26 01:51
Lizzie meets every creepy guy in VT & a serial killer
All Tucked Inn; An Elizabeth Burke Thriller (Book #1) - Mindy M. Shelton

(this is about the audiobook, which isnt an option at the moment on BookLikes)


Lizzie Burke lives with her widowed mother and younger brother in her mother's B&B, which is near the college she starts when we meet her. She makes a few friends on the first day of classes, and things seem to be going pretty well. Until one of her new friends goes missing -- and many (not Lizzie) assume she's been killed. Especially when another girl goes missing not too long after this. Now, as Lizzie and her friends are Criminal Justice majors, I assumed they'd start investigating things on their own, meddling with the official investigations, and get the killer themselves. But nope. They're just on the sidelines, worrying about their friend and the others -- until things happen, forcing them to action.


Meanwhile, Lizzie deals with several guys expressing various degrees of romantic interest in her. All of whom are creeps of the first order. Seriously, she's like a magnet for them. Hopefully before the next book in the series, Lizzie takes a long, hard look at herself and comes up with some basic standards -- or decides not to date until she gets her Master's. I wasn't sure what to think of Lizzie for most of the book really, she was pretty passive as protagonists go. But once she started actively doing things, I liked her a lot.


The tone is light and optimistic -- there's some good relationships established between Lizzie and her family, as well as her new friends. It's basically a cozy with a few very dark and non-cozy chapters thrown in. I think the serial killer's POV chapters could be stronger and more nuanced -- but man, it's hard to get that right if you're not Thomas Harris or Val McDermid. Mostly, it's a bunch of nice people watching something horrific happen in their midst and trying to keep going, and most of that is something I can really get behind.


But I did have a few problems, and I'm only going to talk about them because I think that the book as a whole demonstrates that Shelton has the good to lose them in future books -- and, they all took me out of the moment, ruining whatever illusion she'd built with her storytelling.


The police (and/or FBI) procedural aspects were horrible -- FBI doesn't have detectives, they wouldn't do a press conference that way, there's no need to get college kids pouring through public records when there are literally people at police stations and/or FBI offices that have access to the same information (and more) who can get it faster. There's some other spoiler-y problems, too. On the one hand, the problems don't destroy the story, but man, they took me out of the moment, out of the story long enough to make me wonder about why the author couldn't take a moment in revision to fix things like that.


My biggest problem was that I successfully identified the killer when they first showed up -- chapters ahead of the first abduction, and I never had any reason to question that identification. Which would be one thing if I thought I was supposed to make that identification, but I don't think I was. The various herrings weren't just red, they were crimson, maroon, and fire truck red.


The writing itself was okay -- there was one moment that Shelton did a really nice job showing that X was attracted to Y, and then followed it up with telling us X was attracted to Y, absolutely ruining the moment. There were a few more things like that -- it's almost as if Shelton doesn't trust herself or her readers (or both). Another moment that really stuck out to me was where she described someone's nickname as "a funny nickname" before describing where it came from -- no one gets other kinds of nicknames that aren't just abbreviations of their names. There aren't depressing nicknames, memento mori nicknames, etc. Just tell us its a nickname, describe the incident and move on -- better yet, say R is called S because . . . and let the reader supply "nickname" and "funny" to it. Most of all, trust your readers -- they're pretty clever.


A few other niggling problems -- the chronology at a point or two is hard to follow; Lizzie says a lot with looks, which is fine if that's how she is, but maybe the sentence structure could change a little when she does it? The other part that was hard for me was trying to figure out when this took place -- and yes, it's possible that the year was given in the opening seconds of the book and I missed it. But almost no one used call phones (and one who did, flipped it closed), students used pencils and paper in class -- yet it seemed to be fairly contemporary otherwise. There were enough references to CSI to make it post-2000, but I'm not sure how much so.


Sorenson did an all right job with the narration -- although I'm pretty sure she missed a pronoun or two, and at one point she read a word that doesn't exist -- I had to rewind and listen to the sentence 5 times to figure out what she actually said and then translate it into English. Maybe it was a typo in her copy and she just rolled with it, or maybe she just bobbled the word. Either way, that's just not good.


Yeah, I had a lot of negative(ish) things to say, but I still recommend the book. This book did its job -- it entertained me just enough to keep going and it introduced me to some characters I'd like to spend some more time with (and most of them survived), even if I wasn't crazy about a lot of their choices/actions throughout the book. I am really very curious about what Shelton is going to do with this series, how is she going to put Burke in the middle of another criminal investigation -- will she have learned something from this experience that will help her?


Disclaimer: -- I received a copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. Which may not have gone as well as she hoped. I appreciate the book, and the interaction with her (she's pretty funny), but the opinions expressed where fully mine.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/09/25/all-tucked-inn-audiobook-by-mindy-m-shelton-tia-sorenson
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review 2017-09-25 22:29
Lie in Wait (Canaan Crime Series) by Eric Rickstad
Lie In Wait - Eric Rickstad

In Lie in Wait a teenage girl is murdered while babysitting for a lawyer who's taken on a high-profile, highly controversial case. Set in a fictionalized version of the small town of Canaan in the far Northeastern corner of the Vermont, this is a thriller that makes great use of its setting and recent history.

In 2000 Vermont legalized civil unions for same-sex couples and there was a backlash across the state from many Vermonters who felt that their state was being "taken over" by liberal flatlanders who were moving to the state in large numbers and therefore their own concerns were being ignored. Signs were put up everywhere encouraging voters to "Take Back Vermont" and roll back the civil union legislation and many other progressive policies. The bigots did not win that time, but its hard for me to forget how many of those signs there were, and how slowly they came down.

Rickstad sets his novel in 2010 against the backdrop of gay marriage instead of civil unions. This brings the action more towards the present for the reader and perhaps ties the Take Back Vermont movement in with other, more recent, knee-jerk political movements. The truth is, in my part of the state, there wasn't nearly as much animosity or division about the same-sex marriage bill as there was about same-sex civil unions, but animosity and division make for a better novel.

The sleepy town of Canaan is rocked by the murder of a bright young girl in the home of a prominent man. Was her death a tragic quarrel with a boyfriend, a message from those opposed to the gay marriage case, or something else? Detective Sonja Test wants to make the most out of this case, there are few opportunities to investigate this level of crime, but the case belongs to the State Police and Detective North, so she has to work within his investigation. Sonja's struggles are compounded by sexism and Rickstad deftly handles that. Women have fair play here, which isn't always the case in genre novels.

I have some issues with the ending, but it was still satisfying.

My real disappointment is an editorial one. I read the paperback first edition and it is riddled with errors - character descriptions contradicting each other, sometimes on the same page; the time of day in one pivotal scene of confrontation is referred to as both the morning and the afternoon; and some small typos. I hope these have been fixed for future editions.

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text 2017-09-25 19:45
Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

The heroine, Nicola, has stumbled over a man, who has been shot. Conveniently this man is British and about her own age. And since he is injured, Nicola´s Florence Nightingale insticts kick in and things are developing fast.


Sounds cheesy? It kind of is, but Mary Stewarts writing is so soothing and comforting, it calmed me down during my lunchbreak (due to various reason I was seriously grumpy before my break).


So far I´m loving this book. I´m keeping my fingers crossed that it will remain that way.


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review 2017-09-25 12:52
Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb
Judgment in Death (In Death, #11) - J.D. Robb

A cop moonlighting as a bartender, is bludgeoned to death with a metal bat in an upscale club. Lieutenant Eve Dallas isn't pleased; not with the fact she has no motive, no suspect, and not with the idea that the owner of the club is her own husband.

Then another cop, who also proves to also have a secret bank account, is found sliced open in his own car and the motive starts to crystalize—someone is killing off dirty cops. But who...And who is the guy gunning for Roarke and how can she thwart his plans?

Another intense read with two seemingly unconnected investigations that end up merging into one single, reverberating case. I loved the suspense and the mystery, it was chilling and gory, and it kept me guessing for a little more than half the book before I pinpointed the killer. Good job in making it twisty and just convoluted enough to keep it interesting without skirting the "overdone" line.

Beside the good, solid mystery/suspense plot, we get the usual plethora of characters, relationship, and interactions between them...And the first major marital spat between our two intrepid leads.
I'm all for quick conflict solving, but I didn't mind the length this one took. It wasn't overdone, it was realistic in how both parties were right (both times, might I add), but let pride and hurt intrude before reason and true feelings could kick in to try and reach a compromise. Not all fights are solved quickly and easily and this one proved it, but it also proved that communication is always the key once tempers are cooled and people actually start to think and try to see the other's point of view.
I loved this little hiccup in Eve and Roarke's marriage, because it actually made the relationship stronger...And provided some great (and humorous) moments of female bonding (loved Mira's reaction and questions regarding Roarke's possible diet).

Intense, fast-paced, with an intriguing mystery, a crazy baddie with a grudge, and wonderful character development.

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