The Stranger Inside

By Lisa Unger

The Stranger Inside: A Novel by [Unger, Lisa]

3.5 out of 5 stars

Rain Winter is adjusting to being a stay at home mom after a job as a journalist. When a murder catches her eye, she is thrown back into her past. Rain was a survivor of an awful attack when she was young. She wasn’t the only survivor though and she begins to suspect that Henry is involved in the murder. Are there more vigilante killings including the murder of their attacker?

Though it has very dark aspects to the story, there was also a kind of peaceful redemption, in a way. The push and pull of motherhood with wanting to also be back to doing what you love was a good plot point. The characters were believable and you totally understood where they were coming from, if not always doing things the acceptable way.  There is a reveal that I didn’t see coming at all. I enjoyed the story and the conclusion was very satisfying.

Thanks to Netgalley and Park Row for a copy of this book.

The Family Upstairs

By Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs: A Novel by [Jewell, Lisa]

5 out of 5 stars

Lisa Jewell gets better and better with each new book and that is saying a lot because every book has been great.

In this story, Libby finds out she has inherited a house, a rather large, expensive house, on her 25th birthday. Libby was adopted and this house belonged to her birth family. The house has a history as her parents and another man were found dead of an apparent suicide pact. They seemed to have been part of a cult. Libby was found in her crib. As Libby finds out more about her family and the house, we are also learning of the story in two other voices. Her brother Henry tells us how the people who came to live upstairs in their house  changed everything. Our other narrator Lucy is homeless with her two children and when she gets a message saying that “the baby is 25”, does everything to get back to England. Just when you think you have it figured out, oh no you don’t!

I sat reading this book with a feeling of dread. You know everything is leading up to what happened and how this is going to change everything, but you just don’t know how. I had to make myself stop from turning to the end to see what happened. You know that’s the sign of a great thriller when you just need to know! The characters are all compelling. Henry is especially complex. That ending! It still gives me chills.

You will want to pre-order this one right away. Ric Munoz, this has your name written all over it. I can’t wait for the next book and the next and the next….

Thanks to Goodreads for an advance copy of this wonderful book.

Where She Went

By Kelly Simmons

Where She Went: A Novel by [Simmons, Kelly]

4 out of 5 stars

When a police officer arrives at Maggie O’Farrell’s beauty shop, she knows right away something is wrong. Her own late husband was a cop and she knows the drill. She  realizes something is wrong with her daughter Emma. She is a college student and their relationship has changed recently. Emma is missing and Maggie will not rest until she finds out the truth.

The story is told in alternating chapters of Maggie’s search and Emma’s past story that will lead us into the world of sugar daddies and more.

This is definitely a page-turner. I loved Maggie’s gumption. She displays that tough mother bear that we all would be if something happened to our child. Emma has the same gumption.  This is really every mother’s nightmare and Kelly Simmons draws you into it. I read it fairly quickly, about a day and a half. A few of twists and turns will keep you wondering and some shady characters for you to hate.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for a copy of this book.

Because You’re Mine

By Rea Frey

Because You're Mine: A Novel by [Frey, Rea]

4 out of 5 stars

Lies, lies, lies, yeah. That song kept playing through my mind as I read this story. Two best friends with so many secrets between them, both unaware. We know someone dies from a fall right away but the getting there, that was a thing of beauty.

Lee is raising her son Mason alone. He is a very special child with the brain of an adult and some very special needs. Grace has been the one friend she can count on, even introducing her to Noah. He works with special kids and he has been a Godsend. Lee needs him in more ways than one. Grace has her own secrets and one that might just push Lee over the edge.

The past comes into play in the story and we find out how both of these women and Noah came to where they are. It plays big time into everything and is really the meat of the story. I was fascinated by it. Then comes the ending. The ending is extremely chilling and very surprising.

This is another good outing from Ms. Frey. She has a wonderful way with a suspenseful thriller and the story that gets you there. Not Her Daughter was another good read. I look forward to reading more from her.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s for a copy of this book. The review is my own humble opinion.


Never Have I Ever

By Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever: A Novel by [Jackson, Joshilyn]

4 out of 5 stars

This is quite the departure from the books that I have read by Ms. Jackson and all I can say is that I am happy to take the u-turn!

Amy Whey has what we would consider a normal life. She has a husband, teen stepdaughter and young baby son. They live in a nice neighborhood in Florida. She has a circle of friends who meet for book club. Her best friend Charlotte leads it. One night, a new neighbor blows in, that really being the perfect term for what she does. She calls herself Roux and she takes over the book club, much to Charlotte’s dismay, pouring drinks and starting a game of adult “Never have I ever”. Only this game is a bit different. It is a game to tell what is the worst thing you did today, yesterday and so on. Amy feels as if it is just for her and she is not wrong. Our heroine is hiding her past from everyone.

If you want a sly game of cat and mouse, this book is definitely for you. There are a lot of twists and turns, one even made me gasp but made so much sense to the story and the character of Amy. I loved Amy. She felt a sort of kinship with Roux but they really were different. I felt like their was such a deeper story with Roux that we don’t really see, her past, but then you realize what she is doing and you dislike her even more. I felt a bit mad at myself for feeling a little sorry for her.

I think that Ms. Jackson conquered the veer to writing a thriller perfectly and I hope she writes more.

The review is my opinion and I thank Edelweiss and William Morrow for a copy of this book.


The Chain

By Adrian McKinty

The Chain by [McKinty, Adrian]

4 out of 5 stars

I was in Florida visiting my daughter and grandson so I did not get much reading done these past two weeks. I did read this book and I was chilled. Everyone fears strangers kidnapping their children. What you don’t think about is that you might have to do it. To think that this was an actual thing in Mexico is so beyond frightening. Your child is kidnapped and you are called. They don’t ask for ransom. They ask that you kidnap another child in exchange for yours. You cannot break the chain. If you do, there are severe consequences.

They did not count on Rachel though. She is more of a threat than they could ever imagine. And she is not alone.

I was terrified reading this book. I think because I WAS with my daughter and grandson. Just the thought of the premise of the book gives me chills. Mr. McKinty did a great job of making sure those chills stayed put throughout the story. There is a lot of action to keep you turning the pages. It is fast paced and you will definitely not be disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for a copy.

I’ll Never Tell

By Catherine McKenzie

I'll Never Tell by [McKenzie, Catherine]

4 out of 5 stars

A family tree can be a wondrous thing with it’s branches spreading out and leaves sprouting up. It also has roots, roots that can get twisted and tangled. Such is the family tree of the MacAllister family. The siblings have reunited at the summer camp their parents owned and ran, on the anniversary of their tragic deaths. The will is being read and a memorial service is being held. When their lawyer lays out the details of the will, the family has to deal with repercussions of an accident that happened years ago at the camp to a friend of Margaux’s, Amanda. Their father believes their brother Ryan was responsible and they have to vote on if they also believe him or not. The truth will be revealed but it might not be what any of them really want to hear.

I really enjoyed how the book was told in the different siblings’ voices and also Amanda’s version of what exactly happened that fateful night. There is also a timeline, a schedule of where each person was supposed to be at the time. Your suspicion will go back and forth between all of them until the very end. There were some surprising things uncovered along the way. It is a great whodunit with some family drama mixed in. Having a strained relationship with a few of my siblings, I really understood where they were coming from.

This is another notch in the ladder of Catherine McKenzie’s books. You will not be disappointed in any of them.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union for a copy of this book.

The Favorite Daughter

By Kaira Rouda

The Favorite Daughter by [Rouda, Kaira]

5 out of 5 stars

Yowza!!! I just read about the most narcissistic , crazy  mommy dearest and I could not put it down!

Jane tells us her story. Her older adopted daughter Mary died a year ago. Her daughter Betsy  does not live up to Mary, in her eyes. Her husband David is having an affair.  So Jane sets up an elaborate trap for them. She thinks she is the smartest one in the room and she will tell you so. As you read, you begin to see the cracks in it all and you just know, Jane has done so many bad things and nothing will stop her from getting what she wants.

Jane’s lack of feelings gave me chills. It was like watching Psycho and seeing Anthony Perkins at the end, staring at that fly. Kudos to Kaira Rouda for writing a character that made me turn every page with a sense of dread. Makes you want to hug your mother. I loved the first person style with this book because I don’t think I would have been as terrified otherwise. I was just hoping throughout that it was going to work out the way it should.

You will not be able to put it down.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Graydon House for this deliciously creepy book.


Before She Was Found

By Heather Gudenkauf

Before She Was Found: A Novel by [Gudenkauf, Heather]

4 out of 5 stars

I have never ever ever been disappointed in a Heather Gudenkauf book and the streak continues!

!2 year old Cora Landry is found stabbed and bloody on the train tracks. What lead to such a horrible crime? Our story takes us into the life of Cora as we read her diary. We also are brought along by the doctor in charge of finding out what is going on in her mind and the minds of her friends and family. We also hear from her friends’ mother and grandfather as they try to sort out just what happened.  Jordyn, a classmate, has bullied Cora and yet she was spending the night with her that night. Violet is new to school and has been working on a project with Cora and Jordyn about urban legends. They are doing their report on a local man who supposedly killed young girls. Is he back? Who has Cora been talking to online?

This tale had some whopper twists! Finding out what happened to Cora was pretty darn shocking. I loved how we saw the happenings through the eyes of a few people. It made you look at it all with different perspectives. I felt so sorry for quite a few of them. I did wonder about how grown up the kids acted, being only 12, but kids grow up so fast these days (I sound old). The ending left me chilled. Heather Gudenkauf is always good for a good chill or two.

Thanks to Netgalley and Park Row for a copy of this book.

The Last

By Hanna Jameson

The Last: A Novel by [Jameson, Hanna]

4 out of 5 stars

Washington D.C. has been hit with a nuclear bomb. This message comes across everyone’s phones in a Swiss hotel. Jonathan Keller, an American academic, is at a loss. Everyone in the hotel is stunned. As news of other bombs occur, many decide to leave and some decide to stay. Jon starts keeping a log of their days, in part to leave for someone in the future to find if they never make it. They begin living in the hotel, people running things, rationing food, when on around the 40th day, a little girl’s body is found in one of the water tanks. Jon begins a quest to find out who she was and just who killed her. Was it someone among his hotel mates?

This is such an interesting premise. With everyone from different walks of life and different cultures living together, you get to see the interactions, the fear, the resolve. There is also an eerie aspect as Jon searches through abandoned rooms and their are stories about the devil and a strange boy. Paranoia sets in, as you would think it would. We learn of everyone’s past stories before they became this ragtag group of survivors. You see the change in people.

The  ending had me believing it went a certain way and NOTHING will make me feel any different!

This is a very interesting look at the nature and character of people. It makes you think about how you would react in this situation. I loved the different characters and I loved Jon, even with all his flaws. The hotel itself was a character. The descriptions of the rooms, stairwells, etc. were moody and dark. I felt as if I was walking around it with someone right behind me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for a copy of this book.