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

2017 Book #7 – The Girl Before by JP Delaney

51nt2d3zgwl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Title: The Girl Before
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/24/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense/thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
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:

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

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. This book tells the story of Jane Cavendish and also of Emma Matthews. The book outlines the lives of both these very different women, Jane in the “Now” and Emma from “Then”. Both women at their different times are looking for a new place to live. Both have recently suffered a trauma and end up applying to live at the same apartment in London. This house comes at a very discounted rent price but in exchange they have to agree to the “Rules.” These rules include not being able to bring much with them, participating in a sort of experimental data gathering, and no pets, children or any kind of mess.  The house is very high-tech and can read your personal preferences from the data that’s been collected and stored, such as what temperature you prefer your shower temperature. In fact you can’t even get in the front door unless the house knows you or you have a code on your phone to get in. And as both women fall under the spell of the building’s architect, their lives parallel each other very closely before veering off in other directions. As both women find themselves being threatened though, they will each have to fight for their lives.
Overall I really liked this book. I didn’t want to put it down and I thought that the alternating points of view made the story line really build with tension. I loved how closely the two women’s stories coincided at certain points. THere were a lot of plot twists in this book, almost too many at some points. I thought this was a good thriller though, with some great options for villains. I loved the technology aspect to this story as well. The house is constantly evolving and growing smarter and learning. It almost seems as if the house brain-washes the individual living in it. It definitely added an additional piece of the story that keeps the reader interested. I have to admit the villain definitely wasn’t who I expected it to be, and I thought the author did a great job with the surprise ending. I liked this book a lot and I would definitely recommend.

The bottom line: This was a really good book, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to find out what had happened to Emma. And I didn’t see a lot of the twists coming, which always makes for a good thriller.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #85 – Melting Steele by Kimberly Amato

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Title: Melting Steele
Author: Kimberly Amato
Date finished: 8/12/15
Genre: Fiction, mystery/suspense
Publisher: Little Crown Productions
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Pages in book: 175
Stand alone or series: #2 in Jasmine Steele series
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

We live in a digital age where everything you do, say and are, appears online. Nothing is ever really gone when you upload those photos, leave a bullying comment or surf mature websites. Detective Jasmine Steele is faced with a series of murders all tied to technology and the ever expanding Dark Web. Out of her element she needs to trust others in order to fully understand what she is faced with. In order to solve these cases, Steele has to put aside her obsession with those that killed her brother and tried to kill her. How can she do that when breadcrumbs all lead back to a powerful man who is connected to both prior cases? She has to find her focus before she loses herself to her own desire for revenge. Past obsessions can easily become crippling addictions.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #7 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.This book continues the story of Detective Jasmine Steele, picking up about 14 months after where the last book left off. Jazz has been in physical therapy and recovery pretty much this whole time (she got pretty beat up in the end of the first book) and physically she’s finally starting to feel close to normal again. Unfortunately she can’t seem to let get of the case that got away from her. She almost died at the end of the first book, was so close in fact that she had a conversation with her grandmother who told her to just let this whole thing go. But she becomes a woman obsessed with getting justice for her brother and sister-in-law. She begins to “fall down the rabbit hole” as she calls it. And really she’s just making it more difficult for herself; she so much wanted to get Frankie back in the first book and now she’s risking her relationship with her (again) by pushing her away and keeping her out. It’s so frustrating to see how much Frankie just wants to help or at least find Jazz help, but Jazz doesn’t want to talk to anyone. And Jazz really needs to talk to someone; she’s having very intense, awful nightmares where she can feel everything including being physically assaulted. She really needs to talk to a therapist about what the dreams mean and how to move past them and how to deal with the fact that she killed someone.
Anyways so in this book Jazz and her partner (Will) will have to solve a triple homicide case. It ends up being a much bigger case than just that and ends up involving a lot of different technology, including a program called the Dark Web which allows users to access basically an online black market. Jazz is able to connect some of the goings-on to Irving Garrison, the ultimate villain from the first book who she’s been obsessed with the past 14 months. And while all this is happening, Jazz and Frankie are also trying to decide whether or not they should adopt another child plus Frankie’s trying to deal with Jazz pushing her away again.
Overall I liked this book, it was a little less gory than the first book, which I appreciated, but I also thought there was a little less suspense and action in the plotline than the first book. I felt more like this book was an important piece of the story but was acting as a middle part to the story where we are building up to a grand finale, which I’m assuming is coming in the third book. I did find some of the transitions into new days or new scenes to be a bit short or choppy and sometimes I had trouble following the flow of information. Also some pieces of Jazz’s inner monologue seem almost forced or awkward. Other than that this was a good continuation of the series I think and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the third book in the series.

The bottom line: I thought this was a good mystery novel, it felt more like a filler book to keep the series going but those are important too. Good mystery, looking forward to Book #3.

Link to author website

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