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

2020 Book #85 – Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Title: Invisible Girl
Author: Lisa Jewell
Date finished: 11/20/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Pages in book: 365
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 #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone returns with an intricate thriller about a young woman’s disappearance and a group of strangers whose lives intersect in its wake.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

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 had read one of Jewell’s other recent releases last year, The Family Upstairs, and really loved it so I was excited to read her most recent release. And this author did not disappoint! This book was really great, it kept me guessing right up until the very end. Literally – the very very end had a great plot twist to it. Saffyre’s character was really complex, she had so many layers and she was such an interesting person to learn about. I was suspicious of Josh but I still really liked the mysteriousness of his character. This book also had some interesting narratives around therapists as human beings – they’re just people like the rest of us and have their own quirks and (in some cases) psychoses. How do therapists like that help people when they have issues themselves that they should be addressing? Anyways, this book was very suspenseful, I didn’t want to put it down and it had my heart racing. The plot was great with lots of layers and lots of twists thrown in there throughout the story. I really enjoyed it and I’d definitely recommend it!

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

2020 Book #80 – One by One by Ruth Ware

Title: One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 11/6/20
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Pages in book: 383
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:

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

My rating:  5.0 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 other books by this author before – she’s a very popular thriller author – and have enjoyed them so I was excited to read her new release. And wow was this one a good one! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading this – I could barely put it down. The author did such an amazing job of disguising the killer right up until the moment of the reveal. And I loved the alternative viewpoints between Erin and Liz’s characters. The people in the book went through a terrible ordeal, my heart was pounding the whole time. And what Erin endured sounded unimaginable. I’m not sure I would have survived it. The build up of the tension and the overall plot line in this story were fantastic – I loved every minute of it! I would definitely recommend this one, go read it now!

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

2019 Book #60 – The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

51QgvPrXOnL._SY346_Title: The Arrangement
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 8/13/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 352
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:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.

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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start and finish 2 ARC’s between August 1st and August 30th” box since I’ve done that at this point!

I had read another book by this author, The Party, and enjoyed it a good amount. This next book by her was described as “a Pretty Woman tale that turns toxic and deadly” and that tag line really grabbed my interest. This book turned out to be really good – I both liked and hated how dark and twisted it was. Natalie was a deeply disturbed young woman but the other POV, her sugar-daddy Gabe, wasn’t much better. The plot twist at the end of the book was a tad predictable but was still done really well and everything came to a satisfying ending. I love how the book started with Nat saying she had killed someone to really ramp up the tension right from the beginning and draw in the reader. The book overall was a quick and pretty easy read – the chapters flew by. Everyone was just so deeply damaged in this book, it made it a little depressing with how sad I felt for each of the characters involved. Overall I liked the book though and I definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #43 – The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

41BKiHPdKILTitle: The Starter Wife
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 7/11/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 307
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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 bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.
 
Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.

 

My rating: 4.25 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 sounded very interesting so I was glad to be able to read it. I haven’t read anything by this author before but the premise behind the book sounded like a couple of other thrillers I’ve read and enjoyed. This book had some crazy awesome plot twists and turns that rocked my socks. The main character was definitely flawed and seeing most of the book from her point of view really delves the reader into the extent of her psyche. There were some “holes” that I didn’t think ended up making the most sense but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. The book was kind of sad but it was really good, some of the plot twists really shocked me. The plot line kept me on the edge of my seat, I didn’t want to put it down.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #41 – Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

418+xum57JLTitle: Good Girl, Bad Girl
Author: Michael Robotham
Date finished: 7/7/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Pages in book: 369
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:

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

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.

The description of this book really grabbed at me and I haven’t read many thrillers lately but I’m glad I read this one! This book had such a good plot, I love all of the twists and turns. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable for me but I still loved them. And I loved getting to know Evie’s character, as warped as it is. Both her and Cyrus’s characters were so well-developed and nuanced and so deeply wounded – I thought the author did a fantastic job of peeling back the characters layer by layer. And I thought the author also did a great job pairing these two characters, since Cyrus was the perfect point of view to offset Evie’s combustible but endearing character. I think that may have been part of my problem though, is that I felt so invested in Evie’s character that I was so disappointed that we don’t find out certain pieces of her story by the end of the book. I realized that (1) this may be part of a series and (2) even if it isn’t – the ending was in keeping with what Evie would have wanted (open-ended) but I still couldn’t help feeling frustration! Overall this was a pretty sad story but I’d still definitely recommend it – I thought it was great!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #4 – An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

419p4e1xfql._sx327_bo1,204,203,200_Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Date finished: 1/16/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Pages in book: 372
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:

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

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 had read The Wife Between Us by these authors last year and enjoyed it so much – I was exciting to see they had a new book coming out. Similar to that book, this book makes the reader question what is the “truth,” and additionally in this book we begin to question our own ethics and morality. This was a SUPER creepy book, I was on the edge of my seat the whole book waiting to find out what was going to happen and I couldn’t stop myself from looking over my shoulder. The author did such a great job of infusing paranoia and fear into Jessica’s narrative. I loved the two points of view too, and how they were written – with all of Dr. Shields’ entries reading as if she was telling Jessica a story. It was an interesting dynamic and created an obvious difference between their two points of view. The reasoning wasn’t revealed until later in the story but it ended up making complete sense. There were some good plot twists in this story, but while they were exciting, they may have also been a tad predictable. The premise behind this book reminded me a little of another book I had read last year, Believe Me, as the main character in that book is hired to entrap husbands in compromising situations, and the reader is led to question what the truth is and who is the more reliable narrator – similar to this novel. Overall I really enjoyed this read and I thought it brought up some really interesting questions on morality, plus it was sufficiently suspenseful. I can see why this one is a hot topic in the book world right now – I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #54 – Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

61pFV5dvJZLTitle: Lying in Wait
Author: Liz Nugent
Date finished: 6/26/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Pages in book: 322
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 international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

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.

This book was pretty great. It really sucks you in, by about a third of the way through I didn’t want to put it down. Each twist  in the road just made me more addicted to the plot. There was a sick and twisted feeling as the reader connects with the characters though, as many of the narrators in the novel have dark sides and dirty secrets. The book alternates between three different time periods and multiple points of view. I thought it was especially interesting that Lydia and Annie’s characters were both institutionalized at different points against their will. The plot twisted in a way that I did not expect, and I definitely did not see the ending coming at all. The ending was still crazy sad, but I guess I should have expected that based on how the book was going. I also thought it was interesting that the book looked at the difference in upper and lower classes and also the change in generations. Also there are some significant differences between the way things worked in Ireland at that time compared to everywhere else. Overall I thought this was a really great book and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #39 – The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

51ehe9xFg0LTitle: The Favorite Sister
Author: Jessica Knoll
Date finished: 5/19/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

My rating:  3.0 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 read another of Knoll’s novels a couple of years ago, Luckiest Girl Alive, and I liked it ok. Do when I saw this new release coming out I wanted to check it out. This wasn’t my favorite book. The plot line was pretty interesting and there were a lot of great plot twists, especially towards the end of the novel, but the pace of the novel was frustratingly slow for me and I felt like there was a lot of really dry sections. I also found it kind of frustrating that there was so much vague referencing in the beginning of the book. I know that was kind of the point, to give the reader a tease about the consequence of the action and then later reveal what the action was. But I was frustrated and somewhat confused in the beginning by the flow of events and trying to keep up with who went where when and who wasn’t talking to whom when. The reality show this centers around too just ended up being about catty, bitchy women who for the most part couldn’t stand each other. I definitely wouldn’t call it a feel good novel. It was an interesting plot though, everyone on the show has their secrets but the real question is – whose secrets will be revealed in the end? Read to find out!

Link to author website

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