2021 Book #44 – The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Title: The Turnout
Author: Megan Abbott
Date finished: 6/4/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott’s revelatory and mesmerizing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio.

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.

Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, sidelined from dancing after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around one another, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker—a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration—an interloper arrives and threatens the sisters’ delicate balance.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

My rating: 2.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed them. The author has an interesting way of telling a story. And that is consistent with this novel as well. As the reader you can see the layers of the story that the author is weaving together. This book was complicated for me because it was complex, twisted and dark and I could see the mastery of the plot line but it just wasn’t one that I enjoyed. It was a little too perverse for me and made me feel icky. And some pieces of the plot frustrated me because if some crap like that was happening to me with the contractor I’d be calling the police or the Better Business Bureau or whoever I needed to call to get that asshole out of there. He was entirely inappropriate and he’d be fired within a day if it were up to me. Dara’s character was fascinating to me but it still felt like she just let a lot of things happen to her and that’s not what I’m about. Overall I think this book was really twist and interesting but it just wasn’t for me personally.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #28 – The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Invited
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Date finished: 4/12/21
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have heard a lot of buzz about this author in the past and having read another book of hers recently (The Drowning Kind) I wanted to catch up on some of her past releases. I really liked this one so much – more than The Drowning Kind even. There were some aspects of the two books that were similar even: both set in Vermont, both featured water as part of the plot, and both were about ghosts! But I ended up liking this one so much better  – I think it was because of the interwoven stories of Hattie’s family throughout and how each descendant’s untimely demise was revealed to the reader. It was gruesome but enthralling. As far as characters go, I thought Olive was a little annoying at first but she really grew on me. Nate stayed pretty annoying throughout. I liked that he came around at the end but he was self-important throughout the whole book. Helen’s character really interested me with her love of history and her drive to help Hattie. The plot in this one was very good – there were some great plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I loved how all the various plot areas came together in pieces that made complete sense at the end. I would definitely recommend it, was a great and spooky read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #25 – The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Drowning Kind
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Date finished: 4/7/21
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have been wanting to read something by this author for awhile and honestly have some books by her in my backlog that I just haven’t gotten to yet but I finally got to read one. This author has gotten a lot of buzz in the last couple years and now I can see why. This book was haunting. It was really a very interesting book that had many layers – not only a thriller but a look into a dysfunctional family and mental health issues. I loved too that the present day narrator starts to lose it a little and the reader is left to wonder how reliable her version of events really is. And I really liked that the story alternated between present day and 1929 – giving the history behind the springs really added to the foreboding of the overall story. I had chills while reading this book and I was definitely on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen. There were some great plot twists along the way, including a big one that I still can’t believe. Overall I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #21 – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Title: The Night Olivia Fell
Author: Christina McDonald
Date finished: 3/18/21
Genre: Supsense, mystery
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 313
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Do No Harm and Behind Every Lie comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. I thought this was a pretty good book, it kept me guessing throughout which is kind of the point! I just felt so bad through the whole book for Olivia and Abi – it was heartbreaking reading their story and knowing that Olivia would never wake up. It was a solid mystery though, and had a good cast of suspects. I kept flip flopping on who I thought the killer was. I really liked that the story was told through alternating points of view between Olivia leading up to the event and Abi after the event. This version of storytelling for this specific plot was perfect and created more tension while also giving important pieces of the plot to the reader. I thought this book was also a great portrayal of a mother’s love in different forms. Abi’s love from her mother and older sister, her love for Olivia, and Olivia’s brief experience also (**spoiler I think?**) – all of these came together to give an overwhelming depiction of a mother’s love for her child. Overall I enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #10 – The Survivors by Jane Harper

Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/28/21
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read another of Jane Harpers books in the past and found it intriguing so I was interested in participating in BookBrowse’s book discussion for this book. I’m glad I did too, because the discussion around the book has been really very engaging and though-provoking. There was a lot of stuff happening all at once with the plot – at certain points it was almost hard to keep track – but the co-mingling pieces all seemed to make sense in the end. Even with all the different things going on, there were a few points that still felt a little slow to me. I think my favorite parts of the book were with Kiernan and his interactions with his mother and dealing with the emotional traumas from their past. That and his relationship with Mia and his daughter and how that changed his view of events from now and the past. I enjoyed the book, though I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites just because of the slow pieces but I’ve been really enjoying the discussion. I think this is a great book club pick and overall a good book!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #38 – You Are Not Alone by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks

Title: You Are Not Alone
Author: Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks
Date finished: 6/9/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Pages in book: 344
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The electrifying #1 New York Times bestselling authors of THE WIFE BETWEEN US and AN ANONYMOUS GIRL return with a brand new novel of psychological suspense, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.

Shay would die for them to like her.
She may have to.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by Sarah and Greer in the past and have really enjoyed them. And this book too was an interesting story but I couldn’t 100% get into it for some reason – I think mostly personal likes/dislikes reasons. The plot line itself was great and it has dome good plot twists at the end. But some parts of the story line were a little bit slow for me, and overall it was so sad. I felt so bad for Shay, she was so vulnerable and really just wanted to make friends. And she struggled so much with what to do. She was weirdly obsessed with the whole thing but I can understand that she identified with Amanda. Plus she saw her commit suicide, I can empathize with her wanting to understand why she had done it. Overall I liked the book but it wasn’t my favorite thriller I’ve read lately. I’d still recommend checking it out, it was a good read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #36 – A Woman Alone by Nina Laurin

Title: A Woman Alone
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 6/7/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A house with the darkest of secrets.
A woman who is the only one who knows.

It’s another bright, sunny day in Venture, Illinois, the sort of place where dreams come true and families can get a fresh start. Cecelia Holmes deserves it after the home invasion that shattered her previous life. Now everything seems perfect – her high-security SmartHome, her doting husband, her sweet daughter.

Until she begins to feel spied on. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Her neighbors ignore her. So when she discovers a shocking secret about the prior occupant of their house, she feels that she has no one to turn to. And now Cecelia must face her fears alone…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by Nina Laurin in the past and enjoyed them, and I’ve seen a lot of media attention for this book coming out. In this world of ever increasing technology, the overarching presence and control of our technology can create and instill fear in many. And it was this fear that was developed and overtook Cecilia, to the point where she was afraid to stay in her own house. Which is entirely understandable considering her house fed her bleach at one point. The event that instigated her to move into this gated community is really the driving point behind this novel. The plot twist in this book was pretty good, though overall it was just so depressing. And gosh did I just hate Scott (Cecilia’s husband). I can’t blame Cecilia for what she did to be honest because Scott was just so shitty. And Jessica was a psycho. Overall I liked the book and the plot twist at the end upped the score for me a bit, I’d recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #34 – Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Title: Fake Like Me
Author: Barbara Bourland
Date finished: 6/7/20
Genre: Fiction, general fiction, suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From critically acclaimed author Barbara Bourland, comes an “impressively intelligent thriller,” nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, about a young painter who tracks the mysterious life and death of her role model, uncovering strange secrets that lead to the truth of her demise (Refinery29).

After a fire rips through her loft, destroying the seven billboard-size paintings meant for her first major exhibition, a young painter is left with an impossible task: recreate the lost artworks in just three months without getting caught — or ruin her fledgling career. Homeless and desperate, she begs her way into Pine City, an exclusive retreat in upstate New York notorious for three things: outrageous revelries, glamorous artists, and the sparkling black lake where brilliant prodigy Carey Logan drowned herself.

Taking up residence in Carey’s former studio, the painter works with obsessive, delirious focus. But when she begins to uncover strange secrets at Pine City and falls hard for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, a single thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I honestly don’t remember requesting this book so I hadn’t been eager to read it yet. However it seemed like a great book to tackle on my Maine trip! And I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it. The mystery piece of the plot was very interesting and the plot twist at the end was pretty surprising. Overall the book really made me consider the intricacies of relationships and how complex they are. The whole artist and art creating process added another interesting facet to the story, but it’s not necessarily something that really captures me personally. There was a lot of detail about the artistry process and I’m glad I learned a little more about it but I still didn’t love it. Some parts of the book were a little slow for me and the ending also felt ill-fitting with the rest of the story for me, but I still enjoyed the book overall!

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #30 – Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Title: Salvation Station
Author: Katrhyn Schleich
Date finished: 5/19/20
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 328
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing
NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by this author before but I was intrigued by the cover on this book and by the description. I am really glad I requested it because I really enjoyed it. The plot line of this book was really interesting and I enjoyed the suspense of the story. The characters I thought could’ve been developed a tad more but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I really liked getting Susannah’s point of view at the end of the story and I just thought that the “creepiness factor” could’ve been a little higher if we had gotten her POV more throughout the book. I overall really liked that the book featured a woman serial killer since that is seen less in media and it was a really interesting story. I liked how the author tied in all the different pieces of the story also – I didn’t see at first how Ruth & Emma’s story fit into the grand plan but by the end it was all connected and made sense. Overall I really liked this book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #28 – Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia

Title: Strike Me Down
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 5/15/20
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Pages in book: 348
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley / Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the critically acclaimed author of Leave No Trace, the “nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go” (The Real Book Spy), comes a visceral thriller where a high stakes crime triggers a woman’s complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth.

Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike.

An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection.

Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.

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My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this as part of Bout of Books 28.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have always enjoyed them. And I have to say – this book was pretty perfect for me since it’s about a CPA! And there are a couple funny anecdotes included that made me giggle (included below).  This was a solid mystery, it had me guessing pretty much right up to the end. I thought there was going to be more of a “reveal” so there was a small disappointment when the plot twist wasn’t quite as twisty as I’d expected. Overall though the whole plot was good and I thought it was well paced, I was interested throughout the book. I didn’t understand the vagueness on why her team was crying about Corbett, and it said they knew something she didn’t, but I can’t remember if we ever found out what that thing is. Also the ending was a little too vague for me. Was there something romantic going on between Nora and Logan? It was a little unclear to me and left it up a little to the reader but I wouldn’t liked it to be a little more definitive. Other than those couple things though it was a really good book and I really enjoyed it. Especially being an accountant myself (and being the dorky kind where I actually like accounting) it was exciting to see an accountant as the main character and topic of the story! And I didn’t even realize that the author is a CPA herself, how fun. I would definitely recommend!!

FUN Quotes from the book

“Among accountants, there was no judgment like spreadsheet judgment.” (This is 100% true)

(This is a long one but so funny) “A business owner was looking to hire a manager and he interviewed each candidate with a simple question: ‘How much is 2+2?’ The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, finally announcing, ‘It lies between 3.98 and 4.02.’ The mathematician said, ‘In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof.’ The psychologist said, ‘It’s not for me to answer, but we should spend some time exploring the question.’ The attorney stated, ‘In the case of Swenson v. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4.’ The accountant looked at the business owner, got out of his chair, and closed the office door. Then he leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, ‘How much would you like it to be?'”

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page