The Family Next Door

The Family Next DoorThe Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 13th 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1250120896
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

Pleasant Court in Melbourne Australia seems like a pleasant place to live…or is it.? This is another book that asks the question “Just how well do you know someone?” You live with a person, share their bed, share meals with them, raise children with them, you know them right??? Well, do you?

Ahhhhhh, small towns. Lovely scenic places. They are supposed to be safe. Nothing bad ever happens there. How can it? Bad things don’t happen when things are so pleasant do they? What a joy to live in a community where you know your neighbors and your neighbors know you. A place where you can get together for neighborhood watch or just to chat about your day over a cup of tea or glass of wine. A place where one can smile and wave, believing that everything is okay, everything WILL be okay, everything should be okay…but what happens when it isn’t?

Have you ever know someone who looks like they have their shit together? Seriously, he/she is the one who looks great, smells great, is healthy, always smiling, always on time, never seems to have a bad day and you envy them…because life is hard and they make it look so easy. Well as they say, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. What drives someone to exercise excessively, what drives someone to always smile even thought their heart is breaking, who acts as if everything is honky dory even thought he/she is harboring a HUGE secret?

Every family/person in this book has something to hide.

Ange works out, gets her hair and nails done. She wants to look good for her handsome husband. He is a good looking man and women throw themselves at him. Ange wants to -no she needs to look good for him…..

Essie once took her daughter to the park and left her there. Her husband and Mother keep close eyes on her to make sure she is “Okay” Her mother, Barbara helps her out a lot as she had postpartum depression. She has even moved closer to Essie to help her out. A Mother’s job is never done…..

Fran runs all the time. Several times a day and she is uncomfortable when her husband is left alone with their youngest daughter. Why? She doesn’t seem to care when he is with their eldest. Their marriage seems fine so what is her issue?

Isabelle is the single woman who moved into the neighborhood. Single and childless, she sticks out and everyone wonders about her. But Isabelle also wonders about those in her neighborhood. She watches them and makes her observations.

It soon becomes evident that not everything is as it seems once you get behind closed doors. Characters have their secrets and as the book unfolds, their secrets come out. Some we see coming and there was one that was a shocker!

This was a really enjoyable read. It is fun, the plot moves along at a nice fast pace and nothing felt rushed or drawn out. I felt that the revelations came at just the right time. I liked how the story is told through the various women’s point of views. This is a great way to see what is motivating them, what is going on behind that smile, a look at their personal feelings and emotions. We learn their secrets and the secrets of other’s in their lives.

I have read a couple of Sally Hepwoth’s books (The things we keep, The Mother’s promise) and have enjoyed them! This is another wonderful book by her. So far she has not disappointed and I will continue to be a happy reader of her work.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to them for the opportunity.

four-stars

Poison

PoisonPoison by Galt Niederhoffer
Published by St. Martin's Press on November 21st 2017
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250085292
Buy on Amazon
three-stars

Cass met Ryan after the death or her first husband. Her Mother never liked Ryan but Cass was in love and wanted a second chance at happiness. After they were married, Cass and Ryan moved with her two young children to Portland to start a new life for their family. Soon they have a child of their own to complete their family. Cass and Ryan seem like the perfect couple and Cass appears to be happy until she starts to notice little things that are off. First lies, then angry denials, omission of the truth, acts of cruelty and eventually threats.

Just what the heck is going on in this book!?! This is a psychological thriller which captured my attention from the very first page. I sat and read this book in basically one reading. I had to know just what was happening, how it was happening, is what is happening real, is there an unreliable character or is one of the characters a dangerous and evil person?

I enjoyed how Cass started out as strong and intelligent but as the story progressed she appeared to weaken and make bad choices, as in really bad choices. I never really cared for her husband Ryan as he appeared manipulative and too syrupy sweet from the start and soon changed into a defensive, controlling and horrible person. I also did not find the whole neighbor angle to be believable and how Cass could trust someone she does not know so completely. That part seemed a little too convenient.

This book has a fast pace and there is always something happening which keeps the reader engaged in the story even if not everything is plausible or for me believable. The ending came really fast and out of left field for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this book. I did sit and read it in one sitting. I just found some things to be off. Overall it is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

three-stars

The Stolen Marriage

The Stolen MarriageThe Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1250087279
Buy on Amazon
three-stars

I’ll start by saying that I had really high hopes for this book. I really enjoyed Necessary Lies and was hoping this book would be just as good if not better. I struggled with this book. One thing I struggled with was that almost everyone is giving this book high ratings and I thought “Is it me?” but I realize that not every book is for everyone and what one person may feel that the book he/she is reading is a masterpiece, while another person may have a hard time finishing that particular book. As I mentioned I received this book in exchange for an honest review and honestly, I thought this book was okay at best.

It’s 1944 and Tess is engaged to Vincent, a man that she is engaged to and madly in love with. She can’t wait to be his wife and live happily ever after. Vincent is a doctor who is passionate about his work, when he goes to Chicago to help fight the polio epidemic. He keeps changing the date he will be coming home as he is passionate about his work. Tess naturally misses him while he is away but is also secretly upset that he keeps changing his return date.

When her best friend Gina offers to take her on a trip out of town, Tess jumps on the opportunity. This is a chance to take her mind off how much she misses Vincent and to have a little fun with her firend. When they arrive they learn they will be staying in a home with 2 other people – 2 men whom they do not know.

Too much alcohol, bad choices and poor judgement come into play. That one night changes Tess’s life forever. She abruptly ends her engagement to Vincent and informs everyone that she is getting married to Henry and moving to North Carolina. She really knows nothing about Henry, his life or his family. She is not welcomed with open arms and keeps hearing that “Henry is not the man you think he is” That would definitely get my attention.

A tragic accident occurs which further alienates Tess from Henry’s family and the town. She is unhappy, not in love and finding out that her husband has secrets. Tess who studied to be a nurse also feels as though she herself needs to help with the polio epidemic and eventually begins to help out at her local hospital where she is re-connected with someone from her past.

So I am in the minority with this book. What didn’t I like. For starters, I feel that Henry took advantage of Tess. She was in no position to give consent and the scene felt more like a rape to me. Also, if Tess knew Vincent all of her life, why did she not go to him and explain to him what happened? Could not all of this misery have been avoided? I do realize that if this happened there would not be a book but I just found that I wanted to take and shake most of the characters.

The description of the book sounded so good to me but while I was reading I found that I had to force myself at times to keep going. As I mentioned I saw so many high ratings and thought “what am I missing?” This book just was not for me. It was well written and obviously appealed to a lot of people but not so much for me. I will definitely read more from this Author as I did really enjoy Necessary Lies.

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

three-stars

The Other Girl

The Other GirlThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler
Published by St. Martin's Press on August 22nd 2017
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1250083656
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

Police Officer Miranda Rader is a respected officer in Hammond, Louisiana. She is known for her work ethic, dedication and professionalism. This was not always the case. When she was younger she spent 6 months in juvenile detention for possession of marijuana. She was known to engage in underage drinking and came from a troublesome family. At the age of 15, she was the victim of a crime and no one seemed to believe her as she was constantly in trouble and was known in her hometown to be a liar.

Miranda has worked very hard to improve herself and to become a respectful member of society. She has become a police officer who is looked up to and respected in society. Although she is not the same girl she once was, she is haunted by the past. She is haunted by a crime that no one believed occurred. What do you do when a crime has been committed against you, when you run for help, when another girl is being held captive and no one believes your story? No one goes to help the other girl. How does this affect your life?

One day Miranda is called to investigate the gruesome murder of a respected professor at a local college. While on the scene she finds a newspaper clipping referring to the heinous crime committed against her and another girl in the past. Just what was the professor doing with a clipping from her past? Who is this man? Does he know who she is and what happened to her? Is this just research for a book he is writing?

Just when she begins to put things together, her fingerprints are found at the scene of the crime. Her work ethic, honesty, integrity and professionalism are questioned. To make matters even worse, another murder occurs – a death which is related to that fateful night years ago. Why does she appear to be the only suspect? Who is the real killer and why does this killer seem to know everything that happened to her all of those years ago?

Miranda is a strong female character who cannot seem to keep from getting into trouble in this book. She continues to defy orders and break police procedures in order to get to the truth. She knows that the college professor is not the “nice” guy everyone believes him to be. She will not stop until she has uncovered the truth about his killer and has exposed the murdered professor to be the predator she knows him to be.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fast paced read with a few twists and turns. There were a couple of times that I wanted to shake the main character as she acted without thinking on numerous occasions. This story jumps back and forth between the current day and when Miranda was a 15 year old girl. As the book progresses, the reader is shown what happened all those years ago. This book is a double “whodunit” as there is a killer in the current day, a predator from the past and also the question remains…what happened to the other girl all of those years ago?

This is a good mystery but not an earth shattering one. I think most readers will have figured out a couple of the plot points. The ending is not a big shocker but it is still an enjoyable one. I figured out a couple of things but even guessing the truth did not prevent me from fully enjoying this book. I found that the past and present story lines really worked in this book.

This was my first Erica Spindler book and it will not be my last.

I received a copy of this book form the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

The Breakdown

The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 18th 2017
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1250122465
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

I’ll be honest. Initially I thought Meh while reading most of this book. But then the last part of the book came into play and BAM that is where the magic happened. I seem to be reading a lot of books like this lately. I found myself awake in the middle of the night and thinking about this book. While I initially thought Meh and wondered why all the high star ratings…it was the last part of the book that really changed things for me. Then I began to see the brilliance of the storytelling and plot twists. B.A. Paris wove her story brilliantly until the very end.

Also can I just say that the title “The Breakdown” is perfect for this book. Is she referring to a diminishing mental status of the main character Cass? The breakdown of her marriage? Or the breakdown of the murdered woman’s car?

Cass decided to drive through the woods one dark rainy night. Even after her husband asked her not to drive that way home. The rain was coming down hard and she decided the best way home was to take the short cut even if it did go through the woods. She sees a car parked on the side of the road and pulls over in front of the car to see if the other driver needs assistance. Due to the heavy rain, she decides not to get out of her car. She sees a woman inside the car who does not appear to be in any distress. Ultimately she decides to leave and goes home. The next day she learns that a woman has been murdered on that very road in her car. She begins to have “trouble” coping after she realizes that she may have been one of the last people to see the woman alive. What makes things worse is that she eventually learns that she knows the woman and once had lunch with her. Guilt wears away at her and impacts her day to day life.

Then strange things begin to happen to her. She appears to be losing her memory. She is forgetting things and worries that she has early onset dementia just like her Mother. Plus, she is getting strange calls which she believes is coming from the Murderer. Packages are showing up at her home, her belongings are moved. Is she being stalked? Is she exhibiting symptoms of dementia? Her husband takes her to a doctor and she is prescribed medicine which seems to make things worse. She can’t remember if she took her medication. She can’t recall if she ordered the items being delivered to her home. Just what exactly is going on and is the Murderer toying with her or is she slowly losing her grip on reality.

From the beginning, I had my suspicions. I was right on the person but not on the reason why. Plus there was more going on behind closed doors (get it? Behind Closed Doors was the Author’s other book.)? What really worked was the ending. I will admit, I thought that Cass seemed to pull of out her drug induced haze very fast but I guess revelations will do that to a person. Nothing perks one up like a shot of reality and truth.

This book went from Meh psychological thriller to a nicely done psychological thriller for me. If you enjoyed Behind Closed Doors, I believe you will enjoy this book as well. Don’t give up on it in the beginning. Keep reading and decide for yourself.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

The Mother’s Promise

The Mother’s PromiseThe Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 21st 2017
Pages: 368
ISBN: 1250077753
Buy on Amazon

3.5 stars

Received a ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At the beginning of the book Alice learns that she has Cancer. Instead of worrying about herself, she worries about her 15 year old daughter, Zoe. Alice and Zoe are a team. Zoe has never met her father and only has her Mother, Alice as support. Zoe also suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks. Due to Zoe’s anxiety, Alice has built her life around Zoe. They depend on each other and now that Alice is facing a major illness, she fears for her daughter and her future.

Alice soon has to rely on the kindness of strangers. She has a brother Paul but he is an alcoholic. He would like to help, and does as much as he can but it is obvious, he should not be the one taking care of a 15 year old girl if something should happen to Alice. So Alice leans on her kind oncology nurse, Kate who is dealing with personal issues of her own and her social worker, Sonja who also is dealing with serious issues in her own life. As Alice seeks treatment, her daughter is plagued with Anxiety and school issues.

This book is made up of up chapters dealing with each characters life. It is a glimpse into the lives of all of the women who must come together to help out Alice and her daughter Zoe but it is also about the women, their stories, their hardships and their relationships with others.

This book deals with a lot of issues: Cancer, Social Anxiety Disorder, domestic violence, infertility, getting help, learning to let others in, depending on others, and rape to name a few. What works is how real the situations in this book felt. Zoe pulled at my heart strings the most. The Author approached her Social Anxiety in a very realistic way – describing her symptoms and inner struggles. As a painfully shy teenager who had anxiety issues, I could really relate to this character. I liked how she faced her fears and opened up to Harry and Kate.

There is a twist in this book which I did not see coming but upon thinking about it, I was like “of course” and “yes, that makes sense”. There is some predictability her but that does not take away from this book. One thing I would have liked to have seen in this book is an epilogue.

Never Let You Go

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 14th 2017
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1250034566
Buy on Amazon

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash got the Hell out of dodge, when she escaped from her abusive husband. She was able to take her young daughter and leave. Her husband, Andrew, who has been abusing Lindsey for years, attempts to follow her as she escapes with their daughter. In his attempts to catch her, he hits another car, killing the other driver. While her husband is incarcerated, Lindsey is able to start a new life and even a career. She believes everything in her life is good, until the day her ex-husband is released from prison.

When Andrew’s release from prison, Lindsey begins to feel like she is being watched, things are moved, her current boyfriend is hit by a truck, someone has been in her home, her dog is poisoned, and there is a sens of unease in the air. To top off the stress her teenage daughter is in a “relationship” herself which Lindsey does not feel quite right about as the teen reminds her of her ex-husband. Sprinkle on the fact, that her daughter has been seeing her father behind her Mother’s back. When Lindsey finds this out, her stress and worries double.

Andrew, for his part, claims he is a changed man. He wants to re-build a relationship with his daughter. He wants to make nice with his ex-wife. He claims that he has not done anything wrong. He is trying to be a better man. But has he changed? Is he Innocent? Could there be someone else who wants to stir the hornet’s nest?

This book was a real page turner for me. I really enjoyed it and looked forward to reading it. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot but that there were several twists and turns which kept me guessing and kept the book interesting. While reading the book, I thought “He is the one behind it” only learn I was wrong. Which is a good thing. I love when a writer can surprise me. I LOVE when I am just as SHOCKED as the characters in the book when the REVEAL occurs.

I think this is a book most people would enjoy. Yes, there are a couple of scenes of domestic violence but nothing else is graphic or too over the top in this book. I loved the suspense in this book and how the Author built the suspense until the REVEAL at the end. It was nice to be left wanting more. I love when I get to put my detective hat on while reading!

This was my first Chevy Stevens book but it will not be my last. I am now off to BINGE read some of her other books.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Best of Adam Sharp

The Best of Adam SharpThe Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1250130409
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

s other reviews have mentioned, this book is nothing like “The Rosie Project” or “The Rosie Effect”. If you are looking for that type of book – be warned – you are NOT going to get that with this book. With this book you get marital woes, infidelity, lots of music and sex.

Adam Sharp first meets Angelina when he is twenty six years old and living in Australia. Angelina is a semi-famous Soap Opera actress. Adam works with computers and is a musician who plays piano and sings at night. Angelina comes into the bar where he plays piano and they begin a relationship. Adam learns about love and loss while being with Angelina. She is in fact “the one who got away” for him. They both loved each other but she was married (separated) when they met and ultimately she stays with her husband while Adam returns to England after some more traveling for work.

Now close to fifty, he is comfortable with his life His relationship with his wife if stagnant and possibly on it’s last leg. They seems to have grown apart over time. Then, out of the blue, Adam receives and email from Angelina. Adam is nostalgic for the past. What would have happened if they never went their separate ways. What would his life look like now if they remained together? With that one email, his world is turned upside down. He begins to get himself together : eating right, exercising, etc. He writes back and they begin to have a back and forth exchange of emails. Then Angelina invites Adam to spend time with her and her husband at their French home. So he decides to go. What harm can there be in spending some time with your old lover and her husband?

So this is where the book takes a turn. I wont say anymore but this book touches on themes of sex, infidelity, infertility, passion, regret, life choices, secrets, love, loss, and second chances. There is also music which ties this book together. His characters are likable who make mistakes, use poor judgement, make hard decisions, and experience inner turmoil.

If you could have a do-over would you take the chance? I think all of us have that something in your life, where you think about what could have been. The “what ifs” and the “if onlys” . This book is about one man finding out what it is like to have that second chance. A second chance with his first love and a second chance to look at his life and decide which is the right path for him.

This book gives the reader something to think about. I enjoyed it. I found myself thinking about it after I read it. Initially I gave it 3.5 stars but upped this book to 4 stars as it did have the power to make me think. If you are looking for a laugh out loud book, this is not the one. Simsion went in a totally new direction with this book which is a good thing. I think he has proven he can do both funny and though provoking.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

Almost Missed You

Almost Missed YouAlmost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 28th 2017
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250107601
Buy on Amazon
three-stars

Received from the Publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

While on vacation, Violet is enjoying a quiet moment on the beach while her husband takes their son up to the room for a nap. When Violet goes to meet them in the room, she sees that her husband, Finn, is gone along with their young son, Bear. Where could they be? Why did Finn take off with Bear? Weren’t they happy? Their life was perfect, wasn’t it?

Finn shows up on his friend Caitlin’s doorstep with Bear. He demands that she help him. The FBI is searching for him so he blackmails her into helping him hide. Does Caitlin help him? Does she risk a secret coming out in order to do the right thing?

The premise of this book was very interesting. A man kidnaps his son and leaves his wife with questions. Hunted by the FBI, he hides out. What really did not work for me where his reasons for leaving. I didn’t buy the whole story. So this guy can run and commits a federal offense by kidnapping his son because he couldn’t be honest with his wife. Why couldn’t this guy grow some balls already. I thought his reason for running was lame.

I did not find this book to be suspenseful. The secrets came out but by the end of the book, I just thought meh. I wanted to take Finn and shake him. I wanted to ask Violet how the hell do you speak to someone who took your child and put your through hell for a “secret” Good GAWD.

This was barely a 3 for me. I see a lot of people loved this book…not me.

three-stars

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Published by St. Martin's Press on August 9th 2016
Pages: 304
ISBN: 1250121000
Buy on Amazon
three-half-stars

How well do you really know your friends? Do you believe everything you see? Is anything ever seem to be just too perfect? Can someone really be the perfect spouse? Have the perfect home? The perfect party?

Do you really know what goes on behind closed doors? Well, we the reader do know everything that goes on behind closed doors in this book. Grace meets Jack while she is in the part with her younger sister who has Down Syndrome. He is a caring attorney who defends victims of domestic abuse. Grace and Jack connect right away and decided to get married after 6 months of dating. Jack wants them to have the perfect life in the perfect home so Grace quits her job prior to their marriage to prepare for their new lives together.

Right after she says “I Do” she learns that she has made a big mistake – a HUGE one in fact. This is where the terror begins for her and will one day begin for her sister.

I found this book to be very readable as in I couldn’t put the damn thing down as I wanted to know what in God’s green earth is going to happen next. Will Grace escape? Will Jack go completely psycho? Will Millie ever move in? Will their friends ever notice that Jack and Grace are always together. Grace never does anything by herself.

I loved how the book went back and forth with the “Present” and “Past” chapters. I found that this book flowed at a really nice pace. It is very easy to hate the bad guy and root for the victim. There are parts where one has suspend disbelief. Will no one believe this woman? Is he so convincing that he could make everyone believe she is mentally fragile? Apparently so in this book. But there is that one character who seems to wonder….hmmmm…what is going on here?

Enjoyable fast read!

three-half-stars