In a Dark Dark Wood

By Ruth Ware

4 out of 5 stars

Leonora Shaw, a writer of crime fiction, is invited to a hen party (what we call a bachelorette party) out of the blue. It’s for her old friend Clare, someone she hasn’t seen in years. After a bad breakup with her boyfriend James in high school, Nora (as she goes by now) just kind of drops away from everyone. She’s completely caught off guard by the invite but when she finds out her friend Nina is going, she decides to go too. This isn’t your usual party, it’s being run by Clare’s friend Flo, who seems to be too attentive to everything Clare. Besides Nina, Nora and Flo, the party is also attended by Tom, a playwright friend and Melissa, an old college friend and new mother. It’s being held at Flo’s aunt’s glass house deep in the woods, very deserted. The story begins with Nora in the hospital, pretty beaten up. What happened and who died?!

There were some fun characters especially over-the-top Flo. I kept waiting for her to lose it. And it does keep you wondering just what happened to Nora and James all those years ago and what hold does Clare have over her. The pace of the story held up throughout, there were no lulls and added to your questioning just what was going to happen. All I know is I didn’t like Clare from the beginning to the end and you’ll understand that for sure. Good suspenseful read.

Little Girl Gone

By Alexandra Burt

4 out of 5

I’ve been on a lull of reviewing lately. The last three books I read were just okay for me and I didn’t even take the time to review them, that’s how much I cared but then I picked up this little gem…

Baby Mia is missing. Estelle, her mother, is found crashed in a ravine, far from home. Her ear has been shot off and she has amnesia! When she  awakens in the hospital all she can remember is blood, lots and lots of blood. Things start returning to her slowly, just bits and pieces. She remember waking up and Mia being gone, straight out of her crib. She remembers going to the police station to tell them but never telling them. She remembers being sad and having bad feelings about her baby. She remembers her crying, always crying. And she remembers blood, lots and lots of blood.

We progress in the story as Estelle is in a mental hospital, slowly remembering. She’s the main suspect but did she do it?

This book was a very timely read since postpartum depression has been in the news lately. Estelle is definitely suffering and never treated so you have to wonder, did she do something to Mia? But if not her, who? That makes you turn page after page to get to that conclusion. It’s very intelligently written and I loved watching her find her footing and fight for what she knows is the truth at last. I don’t like the comparisons between this and Gone Girl. I’m actually tired of books being touted the new Gone Girl. This may have gone and girl in the title but it’s not that book. It’s stand expertly on it’s own. I look forward to more books by Alexandra Burt.

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

The Gates of Evangeline

By Hester Young

4 out of 5 stars

Charlotte “Charlie” Cates has suffered the most horrific thing in life, the death of her young son. As she lives in a fog trying to come to terms with life again, she starts to have dreams of young children. They are either dead or dying and they need her help. This isn’t some king of psychological problem because she lost her child, she discovers she has a gift. The dream she has of a little boy lying in a swamp leads her to a new job writing a book about a cold case from thirty years before. Three-year-old Gabriel Deveau goes missing from his family’s plantation home, Evangeline, and is never seen again. Are her dreams leading her to the killer?

This story has a wonderful cast of characters, all very Southern Gothic. Hettie, the matriarch, is dying and Charlie is told not to talk to her about the book. Her twin daughters can’t wait to get their hands on the estate. Andre, the closeted son, seems moody and quiet. The staff are all welcoming, most weren’t there thirty years ago.  I really enjoyed her relationship with Detective Minot. And then there’s Noah. Hettie has hired him to redo the grounds to their old splendor. As Charlie and Noah get closer, you begin to wonder just who he is exactly.

There are so many twists and turns. It’s one of those books that you just want to peek ahead to see exactly where it’s going or if you are on the right track to where it’s going. (Yes. Yes. I peeked ahead. Bad Mary. Bad! But I couldn’t help myself.) It started off a bit slow for me but definitely picked up and had me up until 1 last night racing to get to the conclusion. If you like a good mystery, this is for you and I highly recommend it. But it’s got a lot more going for it than just the mystery factor. There is romance, religion, loss, grief and ultimately finding joy in life.

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

The Blue

By Lucy Clarke

This book is really two stories, now and then, that eventually merge into one. In the “now”, Lana is awaiting word on the sinking of the yacht “The Blue”. She used to sail on the boat with the crew that is missing. Her best friend Kitty was still on the yacht. As she waits for word and as family members of the crew gather, she remembers why she left.

And that leads us into the “then”. Kitty and Lana were running away from life and ended up in the Philippines by the luck of the spinning globe. They meet Denny who introduces them to the others who are just living the free life, sailing around on the yacht and going where it takes them. Despite Aaron’s (the skipper) rules about no relationships between the group, Lana and Denny find themselves drawn to each other. Life goes along well until a tragedy occurs and the following days lead up to suspicion and anger.

The book goes back and forth between the now and then.

This story has so many snaky twists and turns. Just when you think something has been uncovered, BAM, something else is thrown in the mix. I would think aha! And then Lucy Clarke would say hold on there, I’m not finished. I almost felt Lana’s claustrophobia stuck in that yacht with nothing but ocean surrounding her, suspecting everyone of a crime. Very well-written. And the epilogue. That epilogue! Made me say whoa.

I have two more of her books on my Kindle and I think I am going to have to open them up pretty soon.

I happily received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense

By Julia Heaberlin

4 out of 5 stars

Tessa is kidnapped at 17 and becomes the only surviving victim of a serial killer. Years later, the man she said was the killer is due to die on death row and she now believes she’s made a mistake. She’s aiding a lawyer in trying to remember exactly what happened and who the real killer is. Is it the person that has followed her since then, leaving black-eyed susans planted wherever she is?

The story is told as the chapters go back and forth between today and the search for real clues and from 1995, as she talks to a therapist about trying to remember right after the trauma. I liked the way that flowed because sometimes that can be confusing but it works in this story. There were times it dragged a bit for me but for the most part, I was drawn into the mystery. I had three different ideas of who it could be and I was wrong for the most part, that’s always a good thing, keep em guessing! A good thriller with a few eerie elements thrown in.

I happily received and ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pretty Baby

By Mary Kubica

5 out of 5 stars

Heidi Wood is someone who cares. She works for a nonprofit. She brings in stray cats. She always recycles the responsible way. When she first notices a young girl clutching a baby at the train station, she can’t get her out of her mind. She sees her there again and again. She’s dirty, the baby doesn’t look clean or well-fed. She wonders how a teenager can take care of her child this way. She finally gets her attention and has her meet her at a diner where she feeds her and gets a better look at the both of them. She says her name is Willow and the baby is Ruby. Eventually, to the objections of her husband and daughter, Heidi invites her to their home. A day turns into days. Things start to unravel in very bad ways.

We hear from Heidi as she watches over the baby, her mind going back to a baby she lost. We hear from Chris, her husband, as he tries to figure out who this girl is and what’s happening between he and his wife. And we hear from Willow, as she recalls her story to a police detective and we unravel what tragedy has befallen all of them.

This is one of the few books I have read that live up to the advertising about being the next Gone Girl  or the next Girl on the Train. I started it last night and had to finish it today. I could not put it down! The ending just threw me. It was such a tangled web that was coming apart on each page that I read. I liked her book The Good Girl, another good book, but I loved this one! You will definitely not be disappointed.

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