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Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Posted November 18, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv ConstantineThe Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Series: standalone
Published by Harper on October 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A mesmerizing debut psychological thriller full of delicious twists about a coolly manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut to achieve the privileged life she wants.
Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

A story that follows two points of views, of two very different women. First, we have Amber, a small town girl who grew up dirt poor and believes she deserves better. In fact, she believes that so much that she had set her eyes on Jackson Parrish, the husband of Daphne Parrish – who happens to be handsome and rich – the two portraying the perfect golden couple. The second woman, is Daphne, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. She is gorgeous and rich, and Amber wants her spot.

This was a really interesting story, a really quick paced read with some interesting characters. I hated Amber, but we were meant to hate her. She was so deceitful that at times I couldn’t help but have to put the book down from the anger. I felt bad for Daphne, who we later discover has enough on her plate without this snake wiggling into her life.

This book was a good read, well written, totally engrossing with fantastic character development and progression. It was exciting, as it was uncomfortable and believe me the second part of the book had some really cringe worthy scenes when Daphne unravels everything and keeps us on the edge of the seat.

Unfortunately for me, the book was super predictable down to the bone because this was exactly like The Wife Between Us, but on steroids. There was just so much that was super similar, it was kind of weird how similar the two books were? There is even an expression nervous Nellie, which was odd cause it’s not something you see often for it not to be a coincidence? And there were other similarities as far as the story went.

Umm, the difference was how it was told, how it unrevealed and the authors of this one really went farther about the dynamics between Jackson and his wife. Plus the whole Amber plot line was completely different. It was still really well done. I really enjoyed it, a lot, in fact, and why wouldn’t I, I absolutely loved the storyline.

But after reading this, I am a little confused how that happened.

Anyway, that aside. Great book, great characters. The main plot line was different, but the point where this was heading and some things that occurred, felt the same…

I still highly recommended it for fans of psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers, because I found this to be enjoyable, uncomfortable, but still well done.

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Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Posted November 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira RoudaBest Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Series: standalone
Published by Graydon House on September 19th 2017
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Paul Strom is the perfect husband with the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, a dream career as an advertising executive, a big home and a vacation cottage. He brings home the money, he protects his family, he provides for them. Paul even planned a romantic getaway vacation to their Lakeside Cottage so he and his wife, who has recently been in poor health, can have the best day ever.

Paul has everything planned.

This book was a fast pace thrilling ride. Being in Paul’s head was hard, pulling me out of my comfort zone, made me cringe, but kept me on the edge of my seat.

Paul is a big narcissist who loves being in control and things always have to go his way.

This book was a fast pace thrilling ride. Being in Paul’s head was hard, pulling me out of my comfort zone, made me cringe, but kept me on the edge of my seat.

Paul is a big narcissist who loves being in control and things always have to go his way. As long as Paul stayed in control it was almost scary the way his thought process worked and how calmly he handled the entire day and what he had planned. To me it felt like the most chilling part of the book.

When Paul and his wife Mia hit the road, the tension starts to rise. I couldn’t seem to put this book down, the voice in the story kept me glued to the pages and devouring the book. It was fast paced, it was creepy, it was disturbing, but at the same time I needed to know how all of this was going to unfold.

It almost makes you feel a little dirty at times.

I do wish that things in the end wrapped up differently. I wasn’t a complete fan of the ending because of the way things played out. I thought Paul deserved a lot more than what he got, especially after everything that he did.

I had also wished we kind of got alternative chapter between Mia and Paul to give us some sort of a break from being inside of his head, but it wasn’t terribly needed. I think part of what made this book so interesting and uncomfortable was the fact that we got to witness how Paul’s thought process worked, the calmness until he wasn’t in control anymore, the calculative moves and motives, the ease he did everything with and holding no repercussions for his actions.

It was a page turner, and a plot well done. If you enjoy domestic thrillers, I definitely recommend giving this one a try.

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Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Posted November 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah PekkanenThe Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 9th 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.Assume nothing.
Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

The Wife Between Us is a story about a woman whose husband has left her for another younger replacement. Richard was a lovely doting husband, who was wealthy, charming, and attractive. She thought she gave him everything, but now she lives with her aunt in a small apartment and works for the department store trying to keep as low key as possible.

She thought she was done with Richard, until she find out that Richard is now getting married to her younger replacement and now she must stop the wedding from happening. Especially since the young replacement has no clue.

Oh.., Wow.., Wow.. I will stop right there. I don’t think I can go on past this point without ruining the book and with this book you have to go into this completely blindly. It is far the best way to experience what is coming.

There is an abundance of secondary characters at play and everything is very well done, including the main characters.

Hendricks and Pekkanen do and amazing collaboration job with this book. Once I started it, I was completely hooked from the first chapter. I could not put it down. The writing just drew me in and did not relinquish me until I was done. I wanted to know what was happening, I needed to know how it was going to end.

There are a lot of twists and turns, at times it feels like the authors spun you around into a circle. I don’t find it a bad thing, despite the fact that it felt a little flip floppy and at times I was questioning what I originally knew about the book. Looking back at it, it was all just part of the ploy to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

I applaud the two ladies for a job well done. For the addictive writing style of this book. For a well done, interesting plot that kept me hooked and flipping through the pages.

This book felt like a puzzle and it is because it’s not till you keep reading do you see the pieces come together as more is revealed through the story and finally everything starts to come together as a whole.

I personally found that I really enjoyed this, not because just for how it was done, but because of the plot. I found that I really loved the plot. It wasn’t easy to read at time, especially the relationship parts, but oh, I was hooked.

I think the only issue I had was, that I wanted to know more about Richard’s sister and the fact that at times it did feel a little flip floppy – but again – this was all part of the plan and that plan was the reason I was so hooked through the entire book. The style was creative, it felt original, I have not myself read anything like it, and I really appreciated it. But, guys I absolutely love books like these that feel like domestic thrillers, they get bonus brownie points.

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Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Posted November 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  Night Road by Kristin HannahNight Road by Kristin Hannah
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 22nd 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 385
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices. To hold on…To let go..To forget…To forgive…Which road will you take?
For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows--her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy--until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.
NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Night Road follows a woman named Jude, who is a mother to two twins Zach and Mia and Lexi a former foster child with a dark past. Lexi quickly befriends Mia and the two become inseparable even when later, Zach and Lexi fall in love.

Jude is helicopter mother. She does everything she can to keep her twins safe and she makes sure that they are both on track for college.

One night when the twins attend a high school party right before their graduation, Zach – who is suppose to be the DD ends up being mad at his mother and drinking, the other two don’t fare much better. When it came down to going home, they had to make a decision between calling their mother, or driving the one mile towards home. Last time the twins got drunk and called for their mother to pick them up, Jude reacted poorly and punished them, despite the fact that they did the right thing.

Well the kids choose to drive and a terrible accident happens, and leaves one of them dead and the events that follow changes everyone’s lives.

This was my first Kristin Hannah book and I honestly have no idea how to feel.

I had a hard time putting it down, it was engrossing, the plot was super interesting, it was emotional. This is one of those books that really takes you for a ride. We get to know Mia, Zach and Lexi as they grow up for the first half of the book and then this terrible tragedy happens and it’s hard to bear, because we actually got to know the kids before this life changing moment. I got to see them as young kids heading towards a future and for some reason books like these can be way harder to read over books that start with the tragedy because of that attachment.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

I was discussing it with my husband and he asked me, so what is it you don’t like about this book, the fact that it’s realistic? No that is not it, I do believe it is realistic. I think Jude’s reaction is realistic for a mother that lost her child, but at the same time, it felt overwhelming for me. I spend a lot of the book being angry, and the book was a bit on the long side, so I spent a lot of time just trying to get through it. It just felt so emotionally draining that at times I just had a hard time with the book.

It feels like one of those books where the author chooses one character who already has a short end of the stick and keeps throwing punches at that character through the book, to me that is just seriously exhausting. Thought the book was well written and the story was interesting and compelling, I felt like it was also a little too long and it just felt like a little too much? Maybe I would have felt differently if Lexi wasn’t the one who kept taking those punches?

I just had a hard time with Jude at the end, her anger blended with my anger, but I felt like it was all just so unfair. Plus, I did find that Zach’s lack of involvement not very realistic. That night was honestly in part his fault, now Lexi was taking responsibility and he couldn’t even stand up for the girl he loved? He was 18 years old, he should have had a voice.

Overall, I still don’t know how to feel. It’s well done, it really draws some sort of emotion out of you. It’s suppose to be a tearjerker, but at no point in the book did I found myself able to feel that way when it was overtaken by strong anger. I was sad for what happened, it was absolutely heartbreaking and I don’t even want to imagine how that sort of thing feels, I don’t even want to know. I do believe that Jude’s emotion and the lashing out is probably true to form, but she let her grief rule her for so long, that I was honestly surprised her husband continued to stay in that relationship. She also seemed to have forgotten that she still had Zach and he needed a mother, but for years, she couldn’t even do that despite that her whole life was centered on being a mother.

But, the book did its job. It caused a real and a raw emotion and I think it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t tears, the author was able to write a novel that I felt strongly about and I applaud her for it. The writing is emotionally driven, the storytelling was well done and I really enjoyed it. As a mother this kind of a thing is terrifying and it wasn’t an easy read, but it was well worth it.

Rating Report
Plot
4.5 Stars
Characters
3.5 Stars
Writing
4.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

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Review: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

Posted November 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review:  A Line in the Dark by Malinda LoA Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
Series: standalone
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on October 17th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Glbt, Mystery, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.
Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.
As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.
When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.
“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”
A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

A Line in the Dark is a book that came highly recommended to me, and since I was already eyeballing it in the store, I felt like this would be perfect for a November read.

I was right, because I truly enjoyed this book.

The book follows a teenage girl named Jess, who is extremely passionate about drawing. Jess has a best friend named Angie and the two have been thick as thieves for a really long time, until Jess notices a girl approach Angie at the Creamery where she works and it kind of puts a wedge between them.

Margot is gorgeous and has her eye out on Angie, which makes Jess extremely uncomfortable and jealous because of her own feelings towards her best friend that she is unable to express or too scared to. The two start dating and Angie and Jess end up in a fight because Angie notices that Jess doesn’t seem to like Margot but at the same time Angie isn’t aware of Jess’ feelings towards her.

Jess attends an art program at the school that Margot goes to (a boarding school for the wealthy) and that causes her to stumble onto some deep secrets that Margot and her best friend Ryan are hiding.

Well, this secret leads to Ryan’s death after a Christmas party and these kids end up being investigated because they are the last to see Ryan alive.

This book is done in two parts. The beginning throws you into what happened, but the first part is before the incident and the second part is the investigation following the incident. I thought this book was really well done, I really enjoyed the writing, the characters, the plot was interesting. It had diversity, but it also had a plot.

This is not a book that is meant to be spooky, and I know some people felt that way when they saw the cover. This is actually a contemporary young adult with a mystery and a twist. It’s about a girl, who is trying to sort of find herself as well as try to deal with the fact that the girl she is in love with, she cannot have.

This book, I am warning now, does not come with a happy ending. It is not a romance, even if it features a romance.

It also reads as an older Young Adult, it is sex positive, but no there are no explicit sex scenes in it. It does have drinking and some cursing.

I did have a hard time putting this down, I was completely invested in the plot line and the characters and I really wanted to know what happened. The ending threw a real curve ball and it was, I did not expect that but it explained some things.

The only issue I think I have is that, the beginning was not how the rest of the book completely unfolded and I felt that the killer should probably have been more affected maybe by what happened? But all in all, I really enjoyed this, it was an interesting read and I always appreciate a book with diversity and a good, engrossing plot line.

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Review: Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

Posted October 27, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Sanctum by Madeleine RouxSanctum by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #2
Published by HarperCollins on August 26th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 343
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

In this haunting, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling photo-illustrated novel Asylum, three teens must unlock some long-buried secrets from the past before the past comes back to get them first. Featuring found photographs, many from real vintage carnivals, Sanctum is a mind-bending reading experience that blurs the lines between past and present, genius and insanity, perfect for fans of the smash hit Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.
Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.

Sanctum opens up shortly following the events of book one. Dan is having nightmare’s and he isn’t sure how to stop them. Getting away from the Asylum, he assumed that his problems would be fixed – but they are not. It doesn’t help that his friends Abby and Jordan seem to be ignoring him, and someone is sending them weird vintage carnival pictures. When a letter shows up from his ex-roommate’s mother, asking Dan to visit her son, all clues start to point for the trio to go back to New Hampshire College.

Guys, I am just adoring this series.  I think a large part of it is due to the fact that the book is mixed media, I love asylums and old creepy vintage carnivals and atmospheric books and this had all of it mixed into one. Once I picked this one up I had a hard time putting it down, I completely devoured it, and loved falling back into this series.

A large part of me wishes there were more books out there like this. I truly believe it adds to the reading experiences and the photos were creeptastic and perfect for this time of year.

Also, this entire book takes place close to Halloween time. So when Dan, Jordan and Abby go back to the college, there is a bunch of secrets that they are still trying to uncover. Including the fact that there seems to be a secret society that is linked to Daniel Crawford and the society seems to be after the trio.

This book isn’t without issues and I acknowledge that. I still feel like there is a bunch of holes that the author needs to fill and I hope everything wraps up in the final book. I don’t think everyone would love this book as much as I do. Because at times Dan and his friends have quiet a bit of drama going on, but they are pretty normal teenagers, so I can see how that would definitely play the part in the book, even if it is probably one of the few realistic parts of this book.

But, I still love it. It’s on an atmospheric side. It’s great for Halloween or fall. It’s creepy, and I am totally hooked. Plus there is a creepy carnival – I’m sold. Also, ghosts, yes?

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Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1) by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Posted October 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

Review:  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1) by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. SheinmelThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Series: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1
Published by Hachette Books on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Pages: 298
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat, move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. From the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. Something about their new house is just…creepy.
In the days that follow, Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. As the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

We follow a sixteenth year old girl named Sunshine Griffith as she and her mom make a move from Austin, Texas to Ridgemont Washington. From the moment the two arrive in their new home, Sunshine cannot shake off the creepy feeling that seems to follow her through the house.

It doesn’t take long for Sunshine to realize what is happening. The house feels cold, there are footsteps of a little girl in the middle of the night, sobbing, bedroom door slamming shut, and her stuff gets thrown all over the floor.

It’s not until one night where the experience what happened to the little girl that turns Sunshine’s whole world upside down. Both her and her mother Kat witness something evil that has happened in the house, but her mother does not remember what happened the next day. Now her mother is acting strange and not at all like the loving woman that Sunshine is familiar with.

This book was interesting. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I started reading it, but I found myself enjoying it.

Sunshine starts a new school and is drawn to a boy named Nolan, who becomes her really good friend. Nolan is incredibly smart and really adored his grandfather who had recently passed away. The loss had hit him hard, but Nolan holds on and believes in his grandfather’s ghost stories so he and Sunshine become really close when Nolan ends up the only person who does not look at her as if she had gone insane.

There is also a strange art teacher that is really into weird and creepy.

Together Nolan and Sunshine must find out what Sunshine really is and save her mother before time runs out.

Outside of the special snowflake alert, I found myself kind of liking Sunshine. She loves film photography – a girl after my own heart. She is very loyal to the people she really cares about and very modest. She just wants to feel like a sixteen year old girl, but she experiences things that no one else can.

The book was pretty character driven and some parts were really spooky. I was kind of hoping the rainy eeriness setting of Ridgemont, Washington would add to the atmosphere, but that part I found a bit lacking.

Overall, I enjoyed it and cannot wait to see what happens next.

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Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Posted October 4, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  The Stolen Marriage by Diane ChamberlainThe Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.
When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

The story

Tess DeMello was going to have the perfect life. She was going to marry the love of her life and get a nursing degree. Everything was going great, until Vincent took on volunteer work for a couple of months away from Tess and her entire world falls apart.
Unable to stop herself from feeling sad about her future husband’s long absence and a niggling feeling that he might be seeing someone else – Gina takes Tess to Washington, where a drink too many leads Tess into sleeping with a mysterious stranger and falling pregnant.

Unable to forgive herself and not knowing what to do, Tess breaks off her engagement and moves elsewhere in hopes of starting her life all over again. When the father of the child decides to do right by her and she marries the mysterious stranger and moves to his hometown of Hickory, North Caroline where she learns the struggle of racial tension and hardships imposed on the town by World War II.

Thoughts

Woah, just Woah you guys. I started this book last night, read it till the wee hours of the morning and when I woke up I had this book on my mind and had to finish it. I just finished it and still reeling from the emotional storyline.

I was so angry with Tess at first and her mistakes because it started out badly and what looked like unforgivable, but ended up mounting until the character started growing from her mistakes into this strong-willed woman that has seen and been through so much hardship and heartbreak in such a short amount of time.

This book dealt with a lot. It dealt with Tess and her loveless marriage, leaving a cloud of mystery hanging over the entire book by making you wonder what is going on the entire time. Just as I thought I had it figured out the author takes this in a completely different direction I was not expecting.

Chamberlain also weaves so much history and everything that people have gone through during this time period with racial tension, laws, World War II, Polio, the building of the Polio hospital and all the sickness and heartbreak. It just added such a punch to the entire book and made it so riveting and hard to put down.

I spent half the book feeling like Tess deserved what she got when she made the stupid choice of leaving the love of her life and the second half respecting her and everything she went through.

I loved that Tess kept pushing and defying the customs and her husband and mother-in-law with the respect that came to her nursing license. I like that she took charge of that part of her life in order to make herself happy again.

The author throws us into the action right away with the opening of the book and the book sits in two parts. The events leading to the accident and the events following the accident. You see a lot of character growth as the story goes on and it just completely blew my mind.

I was sad, I was teary, I was enthralled in the story and the characters writing. It was so well written, the storytelling was remarkable and I was so drawn and flipping through the pages that I actually had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters.

The pacing was perfect, I never felt like there was a dull moment. The author kept me glued to the pages wanting to know what was happening, what was going to happen to these characters. I loved how she incorporated this time period into these characters lives and made them feel really genuine and human, that at times I forgot that they are fictional.

If you enjoy Historical fiction, absolutely wonderful writing, an emotionally gripping story, raw characters, I strongly recommend you read this because, I just cannot express how much I loved this book and everything about it.

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Review: The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

Posted September 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  The Girl in the Picture by Kerry BarrettThe Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett
Series: standalone
Published by HQ Digital on September 20th 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Two women. One house. Centuries of secrets.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet Hargreaves is the lonely daughter of a widowed industrialist, and an aspiring Pre-Raphaelite painter. One day, the naïve eighteen-year-old meets Edwin; a mysterious and handsome man on the beach, who promises her a world beyond the small costal village she’s trapped in. But after ignoring warning about Edwin, a chain of terrible events begins to unfold for Violet…

East Sussex Coast, 2016

For thriller-writer Ella Daniels, the house on the cliff is the perfect place to overcome writer’s block, where she decides to move with her small family. But there’s a strange atmosphere that settles once they move in – and rumours of historical murders next door begin to emerge. One night, Ella uncovers a portrait of a beautiful young girl named Violet Hargreaves, who went missing at the same time as the horrific crimes, and Ella becomes determined to find out what happened there 160 years ago. And in trying to lay Violet’s ghost to rest, Ella must face ghosts of her own…

Please be advised, trigger warning for sexual assault and physical abuse.

When Ella and her husband decide to take the jump and move her family out of the city into a small town into a house on a cliff, the last thing Ella expected was the house to be tied to an unsolved murder case that happened 150 years ago. Upon finding a beautiful self portrait of a young woman who may have lived in the house a hundred years ago, Ella cannot help but immerse herself in the mysterious murder and the disappearance of Violet Hargreaves, especially since the girls history seems to resemble what Ella went through growing up.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet is a lonely 18-year-old girl whose father is a widowed Industrialist and travels a lot. To fill her lonely days, Violet paints, despite her father’s disapproval of Violet painting – it is her escape.

She meets a handsome married neighbor next door who claims he knows artists in London that can help Violet get noticed and break out into their world. All Violet wants more than anything is to escape her small town and do what she loves most and that’s paint. But, when Violet ignores warnings about Edwin, she sets in motion the horrible set of events that had the town’s people wandering for years of what had occurred and a mystery that was never solved.

This was so interesting. It’s a historical fiction but those who are afraid of slow moving Historical Fiction don’t be. Kerry Barrett delivers a beautiful if not horrific story about two women set years apart with centuries worth of secrets. She spins a lovely tale of a girl named Violet, who just wanted something more than a lonely marriage out of life and Ella a thriller-writer who might be just curious enough to uncover it.

The entire time I was reading Violet’s story I found myself rooted to my seat, finding it completely riveting and thoroughly heartbreaking.

I wanted to know how it all ended for the young girl so naive, yet so full of passion.

The ending had me gasping, because I did not expect that to go the way it did. Not only was it completely heart wrenching, but also quite a bit horrifying. You can’t even tell that it’s coming until a certain point and at that point you get to know Violet enough to really feel for the girl and her outcome.

I wasn’t sure how plausible the ending was to be honest, but I guess I could see it happening. It felt original, unexpected and definitely creative. Ella’s obsession with Violet was strange and at times it did feel hard to believe because I did not know why she was so consumed in a mystery that happened so long ago, with not much to go on, but her prodding really paid off in uncovering the ugly truth that was hidden all these years unanswered.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys an engrossing story that builds up in tension and mystery, with characters that will stick to your heart long after it is finished.

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Review: Southern Fried by Tonya Kappes

Posted September 22, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Southern Fried by Tonya KappesSouthern Fried by Tonya Kappes
Series: Kenni Lowry Mystery #2
Published by Henery Press on April 4th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the South, it’s better when the food is fried and the secrets kept buried…
After the dead body of a beloved Cottonwood resident is found tangled up in an electric fence, Sheriff Kenni Lowry has a hunch that somethin’ ain’t right. Her investigation heats up with a fierce cook-off competition, a euchre game where the intel is sweeter than the brownies, and a decades old family recipe that may just be the proof in the pudding.
The icing on the cake: Kenni is fighting an attraction to her recently sworn-in deputy sheriff, and election season is hot on her tail. When the killer comes after who she holds most dear, even her poppa’s ghostly guidance might not be enough to keep her and her own out of the frying pan.

Owen Godfrey is dead and his murder might revolve around a certain family cookbook that everyone is just dying to get their hands on because of a secret okra recipe. When Sheriff Kenni is forced to investigate another murder of a local Cottonwood resident, she and her new deputy Finn, her Poppa and trusted pooch Duke must uncover the secrets behind the cookbook that were worth killing over.

This was such a great read. I never read a Kappes book, but it definitely won’t be my last. Kenni has a lot on her plate, she is still trying to prove that she is fit to be the town sheriff, meanwhile with the re-election coming up the retired sheriff decides to throw his name in the hat, so Kenni must solve this new murder as quickly as possible.

I loved Kenni and I loved Duke and Finn. This book has a lot of Southern charm, wit and humor along with meddling mothers and busy body neighbors, if you like books set in the south you will enjoy this gem.

I found the writing to be fun and fast paced, I found myself just flying and enjoying this book. There is a bit of romance and a ghost of Kenni’s grandfather who was an ex-sherrif who still lingers in order to help Kenni protect the town. There is a lovable pooch named Duke that just melts your heart and a wonderful cast of characters.

If you like cozy mysteries but have not read this one I recommend it. It’s engaging, has a lot going on, and never a dull moment. I just kept flipping through the pages. It was nice to get lost in the town of Cottonwood and I cannot wait to go back.

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