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

2017 Book #43 – The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

51MUPopm41LTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 5/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 353
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:

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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. This book tells the story of Leah Stevens, a journalist who has recently relocated from Boston to rural western Pennsylvania to escape the mess she’s made of her life. Starting over with a teaching position, she hopes to leave her failure behind her. Leah moves in with a friend that she’s recently reconnected with, Emmy. She and Emmy lived together for a few months right after Leah graduated from college, when she became a new person and began to form the structure of her adult life. After not seeing Emmy for eight years, she suddenly reappears just when Leah seemingly needs her most. But then a dead body is found by the lake and this small rural town in western Pennsylvania starts to feel a little less safe. And as the bodies, and the secrets, start piling up, with Emmy missing and Leah left to connect the dots, the truth unravels and Leah learns that the danger really is everywhere.
AHH Overall, my gosh, I loved this book. I was addicted, on the edge of my seat, didn’t want to put it down. I found myself continually looking around trying to “find the danger” when I wasn’t reading. Leah as a character was great. She’s on the edge of losing it and she gets so deep into this that the reader even starts to question if Emmy is real or not. I loved the mind-games that this book plays with the reader, the danger really is everywhere and Leah is in much more trouble than she could have ever imagined. The way that the author presents the different relationships within this book I found to be really interesting too. Leah realizes later on in the book and its true but relationships are all about perspective. Your specific perspective of that person and what they present to your relationship could only be one facet of them as a person and of their lives, which I found to be a thought-provoking aspect to this story. This was a great and interesting book with great plot twists and a constant threat of danger. This is going to be a must read for this summer, I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was on the edge of my seat and I just loved the twists and turns in the plot. This one is a must read for the summer, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #69 – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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Title: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 7/8/15
Genre:  Fiction/Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Pages in book: 338
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.
As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.
The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I feel like I have seen this book everywhere over the last few months. Every couple months now I feel like a book will come out and everyone says its the next “Gone Girl” but its nothing like Gone Girl. And that’s pretty much what happened with this one. It even says right on the front of the book “With the cunning and verve of Gillian Flynn” (Gone Girl author), leading readers to believe this will fill the hole in them that Gone Girl left behind. I think its unfair in most cases to compare one book to another because each is its own little magical portal and while you may find similarities in them, they really aren’t comparable. And to be honest I saw more parallels to Gone Girl in The Daylight Marriage than I did in this book.
Anyways, so this book is about TifAni FaNelli, who grew up far too quickly when she transferred from a Catholic girls school to an upper class private school almost an hour away from her house. She was expelled from the Catholic school for an incident that had to do with pot, but I thought the whole thing was odd since she didn’t get the pot in the first place. So she ends up going to this hoity toity private school with a bunch of rich kids whose parents don’t ever supervise them so they end up spending all their time getting drunk and doing drugs. She makes friends with the popular kids eventually but then an “incident” causes her to fall out of favor with them. I don’t want to say too much about what else happens with the high school stuff because it is a bit of a twist. The book alternates between her remembering these events from her childhood/high school experience and her at twenty-nine when she is getting ready for her wedding in a few weeks and having a lot of second thoughts. Due to the trauma she dealt with in high school, she has a lot of undealt-with issues as an adult that she has trouble dealing with on a day-to-day basis. She also kind of has a selfish, thought-less fiance who doesn’t see anything past the surface with her and I don’t know how she wasn’t screaming in frustration all the time at him.
There were a lot of other things too that frustrated me about this book. I will say that TifAni is raped while in high school and when her mother finds out her reaction is “You don’t have a body like TifAni’s and go to a party with all boys and drink too much and not know exactly what you’re doing there.” Honestly I had to put the book down for a moment I was so mad. I can’t even imagine a mother so callous. I’m sure a fourteen year old girl who had never drank before (and therefore had no idea where she should limit herself while drinking) had no intention of going to a party and getting so drunk that when a boy found her drunk on the floor he decided to have sex with her unconscious body. WHAT MOTHER THINKS THAT IS HER DAUGHTER’S FAULT. Maybe if she weren’t such a desperate to climb the social ladder wanna-be then her daughter wouldn’t be in this situation. Rant over.
So like I was saying, there were a lot of things about this book that frustrated me. Not in a “this book is awful” way but more in a “these characters are frustrating but that’s a piece of the story” way. I’ve never experienced a character in any other book before that I was able to hate, pity, and admire all at the same time. Ani ends up having a crap ton of issues that kind of make her into a bitch (excuse the language) but through the book you see past the layers of bitch to the scared little girl that just wants to find somewhere she can feel safe again. And she has survived and dealt with so much and went on to find a job she loves and thrives at and its hard not to admire how much she’s managed to accomplish. I thought the ending was a little odd and vague but other than that I thought this was a good book. Not one of my all-time favorites but quite good.
The bottom line: Eh, I think I would recommend this book, probably not universally though. I would recommend it if I knew the person liked suspense fiction.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #38 – Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

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Title: Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir
Author: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
Date finished: 4/27/15
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: January 11, 2006
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

In Girls of Tender Age, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith fully articulates with great humor and tenderness the wild jubilance of an extended French-Italian family struggling to survive in a post-World War II housing project in Hartford, Connecticut. Smith seamlessly combines a memoir whose intimacy matches that ofAngela’s Ashes with the tale of a community plagued by a malevolent predator that holds the emotional and cultural resonance of The Lovely Bones.
Smith’s Hartford neighborhood is small-town America, where everyone’s door is unlocked and the school, church, library, drugstore, 5 & 10, grocery, and tavern are all within walking distance. Her family is peopled with memorable characters — her possibly psychic mother who’s always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her adoring father who makes sure she has something to eat in the morning beyond her usual gulp of Hershey’s syrup, her grandfather who teaches her to bash in the heads of the eels they catch on Long Island Sound, Uncle Guido who makes the annual bagna cauda, and the numerous aunts and cousins who parade through her life with love and food and endless stories of the old days. And then there’s her brother, Tyler.
Smith’s household was “different.” Little Mary-Ann couldn’t have friends over because her older brother, Tyler, an autistic before anyone knew what that meant, was unable to bear noise of any kind. To him, the sound of crying, laughing, phones ringing, or toilets flushing was “a cloud of barbed needles” flying into his face. Subject to such an assault, he would substitute that pain with another: he’d try to chew his arm off. Tyler was Mary-Ann’s real-life Boo Radley, albeit one whose bookshelves sagged under the weight of the World War II books he collected and read obsessively.
Hanging over this rough-and-tumble American childhood is the sinister shadow of an approaching serial killer. The menacing Bob Malm lurks throughout this joyous and chaotic family portrait, and the havoc he unleashes when the paths of innocence and evil cross one early December evening in 1953 forever alters the landscape of Smith’s childhood.
Girls of Tender Age is one of those books that will forever change its readers because of its beauty and power and remarkable wit.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book was lent to me by my friend from work, Jim Lyons. He lent it to me last year though, and since I am an awful person I haven’t read it yet. Therefore at the beginning of the year I added it to my list for the Roof Beam Reader TBR Pile Reading Challenge. I might have put this off a little because I usually read mostly fiction and this book was a memoir. I have to be honest though, I loved this book. It was interesting, emotional, and riveting. It was especially interesting for me since I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life and the book has a lot of different Connecticut facts included in the memoir.
I don’t usually read many non-fiction books but the author lays out the story in a very interesting way. There are a variety of issues addressed in this memoir, including the murder of Mary-Ann’s friend when they were young, dealing with Tyler’s autism before anyone knows what autism is, and a look at how sexual assault cases are addressed in the 1950’s. It looks at the friend’s murder from a child’s point of view and talks about how this affected her growing up. There were many emotions throughout the book, I was tearing up by the end. This was a very well written memoir and I am very glad that my friend Jim lent it to me to read!

The bottom line: Not my usual cup of tea but I loved it. Would recommend, particularly to people from CT.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #32 – The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

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Title: The Magician’s Lie
Author: Greer Macallister
Date finished: 4/17/15
Genre: Fiction – Mystery / Historical / Magical
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Pages in book: 312
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.
But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless-and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5
My review: This book will count for the challenge I am participating in for April, the #ReadingMyLibrary reading challenge. I checked out this book from the Terryville Library. I saw this book in a recent BookPage publication I think and a couple other places so when I saw it at the library I thought I would give it a try. From the beginning, this was a really interesting story. The murder is introduced early on in the book and then we learn through the rest of the story how this young woman’s life has gotten to where she is now, in police custody.
The Amazing Arden has had what many would consider a very difficult life. Her story is heart-wrenching and enthralling at the same time. That she has survived so much is truly astounding. There were a couple of drier parts to the story that were a little more difficult to get through but overall I really liked the book. The only thing I still wondered about after it ended was what happened to Ada’s mom? I can’t help but worry that Ray found a way to somehow punish Victor and the mom for Ada’s disappearance.
Ray’s character was just so creepy. The whole time I was reading this book, I found myself looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was following me. Ray is just such a scary person and the whole book just felt so real to me that I felt like I was living the scary parts sometimes.

The bottom line: Really interesting! Pretty dark but I found it riveting. I would recommend it.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #68

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The sixty-eighth book I read in 2014 was The Witness by Nora Roberts. I finished this book on 8/11/14. I rated this book 4,25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Elizabeth Fitch, prodigy child who at 16 has already been accepted into Harvard medical school. Elizabeth’s controlling mother has decided that Elizabeth will follow in her footsteps and be a neurosurgeon. But Elizabeth’s real passion is computers, and she hopes to someday work for the FBI. One night of rebellion turns Elizabeth’s life around completely, and the few months that follow as she waits in a safe house for a trial to begin turn out to be better than all her years living with her heartless mother. A plot to eliminate her as a witness though leaves her doubting who she can trust, and so she goes on the run for the next twelve years. 

Elizabeth (now calling herself Abigail Lowery) settles in a small town in the Ozarks, thinking that in this quiet town she can finally find a semblance of safety and peace. But what she finds is that the Chief of police in this small town of Bickford is an extremely annoying man. He seems to be always butting into her business, and for a woman who just wants to be left in peace this can be extremely trying. Abigail comes to find though that Brooks can’t be avoided, and as they grow closer she discovers that he may be the one person she can trust with her secret. Brooks also has to deal with multiple different side stories in his role as town police chief. The addition of the side stories make it so that there is never a dull moment in this book.

Overall I very much liked this book. Even though it was a longer book for me (488 pages), I even thought that there could have been more added to the end. I felt like the ending was cut off a little too quick, I wanted to find out what happened with the bad guys. I absolutely loved the heroine in this story though, she was utterly fascinating. I would highly recommend this book, it was a great, interesting read and I was hooked throughout the whole story!

Link to author website: http://www.noraroberts.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Witness-Nora-Roberts/dp/0425264769/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1407786512