Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams

4.5 stars Thriller

Given the evidence, I’d have done exactly what Lena did when she was notified that her twin sister had committed suicide.  Sure, Cambry wasn’t completely stable but Lena feels that she knows her sister and that she wouldn’t commit suicide.  Cambry was supposed to be taking a break from life, traveling, living in her car, enjoying the world around her so, why would she suddenly decide to end her life by jumping off a bridge?  Then, there’s the police report.  This piece of paper raises too many red flags for Lena.  Why hasn’t anyone else questioned this record?  Do they understand all the phone calls Cambry made?  What about Cambry’s last message, what did she mean by that?  Was it just a coincidence, the contact between Cambry and the same highway patrolman before and after her death?  This was one intense read and I wanted needed to know the answers.

As Lena meets Reymond Raycevic on Hairpin Bridge, she wants the full account of what occurred between Reymond and her sister, when the two of them came into contact.  As Lena listens, the Montana Highway Patrolman comes off irritated for having to repeat this but nevertheless, he gives Lena what she wants.  Whoops!  Better slow down Mr. Patrolman, you might just not want to be so overconfident.  This is getting good as Lena is a great listener and she’s paying close attention to everything that he’s saying. She’s not giving up until she knows the truth and she’s not putting any trust in the words on the typed-up police report.      

Another fantastic book by Taylor Adams, an exciting pursuit that had me turning the pages way past my bedtime!  I received a copy of this book from Scene of the Crime Early Read Program in exchange for an honest opinion, thank you for sending me this book. 

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

4 stars Mystery

Love makes some individuals blind and stupid.  Claire claims that she loves Jack and Jack feels that Claire is the one yet, let’s be real here.  Do they think that they can hide parts of their lives from each other, when they’re days away from tying the knot?  I wasn’t sure who was wearing the better disguise, Claire or Jack?  I do know that I enjoyed discovering how they each thought that they had the upper hand.    

I was in Claire’s corner as I learned how closed-lipped Jack was about parts of his life.  Was he just wanting to move on or was he trying to hide something? She knew that she wasn’t Jack’s #1 but I wasn’t prepared for how this really affected her. The longer I read the book, I thought perhaps they might just be right for each another, as Claire’s secrets were disclosed.  

Setting in motion the events leading up to their wedding ceremony, the parties arrive on the island and I was in awe. Talk about money! It’s an amazing place but dang, this wonderful day was turning into a nightmare.  A nightmare that I enjoyed but the individuals on the island, weren’t having so much fun. 

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The author did a great job disclosing their secrets and I enjoyed the implications that these had on the individuals involved. A time for celebration, the main characters were on edge while many of the guests were enjoying themselves on the island, I liked how there was this mix as it provided an element of uncertainty in the book.  This was a great mystery that I had a hard time putting down.

Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. #HerDarkLies #NetGalley

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

5 stars Historical

The year is 1939, WWII is on everyone’s mind as the war is moving closer to home.  Impressed with the American’s Dewey Decimal System, Odile decides that an American library is where she wants to works and lands a position at the American Library in Paris. Odile loves her new position: being surrounded by individuals who care and enjoy reading.  This truly becomes her second home and her refuge.  

We move to the year 1983.  Lily has heard that this woman in her neighborhood was a war bride yet to Lily, she didn’t match what Lily envisioned.  For school, Lily interviews this neighbor and discovers what a treasure Odile really is.  While Lily feels like her own life is crumbling apart, she finds a true friend in Odile and someone that she can confine in. Although they are generations apart, Odile finds that being with Lily, she’s able to share the story of her life and her talents, which brings her tremendous joy.  

I enjoyed how the author alternated the stories throughout the book. As I read, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a true account, that this story actually took place.  Although at times, I didn’t want one story to end, I was excited to get back into the lives of all the characters.  I had a hard time in the beginning chapters getting settled into the book but after those few chapters, I enjoyed it. I loved how everyone who was a part of the library tried so desperately to make sure their subscribers had access to the materials that they wanted. It wasn’t just making sure that the books were safe during the war but getting them out and into the hands of the individuals who really needed them, during this difficult time.  Doesn’t this sound like what we are going through now, to a point?  Is your own library meeting the needs of the people that it serves during this uncertain period in our history?  

By Plemasson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36874402

Odile’s relationships had me up at 3:30 in the morning as I couldn’t sleep thinking how things were going to work out.  Between her father, her brother, her girlfriends and her romance, it’s a wonder I slept at all the past couple nights.  I appreciate the author’s research in putting this book together as it was a fantastic read and one that I highly enjoyed.

Thank you Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.      

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

5 stars Mystery

What a terrific book by Tudor!   This was my third book from this author and she never fails to amaze me.  From the beginning pages, the story had my curiosity as Jack and her teenage daughter are relocated by Bishop Durkin.  I didn’t know what to think as the reverend and her daughter were transferred to the small community of Chapel Croft.  As the Bishop talks to Jack about this move and he mentions that Jack will be leaving behind the police observations, the crime scene and her angry congregation, whatever Jack did, it sounds pretty serious.  The Bishop felt that this would-be Jack’s best option yet, as I read the book, this was supposed to a good option?  I guess I wouldn’t want to know, what the Bishop thought were bad options.   

When the mother and daughter arrived at their new community, it’s not all that promising.   What happened that first day, should have told them something but I guess the reverend is used to drama.  The pair was met by a pair of Burning Girls at their gate, Jack later find a gift that was left for her.  Upon opening this gift, Jack finds she was gifted an exorcism kit and later, as their first visitor approached them, they realized that she was covered in blood.   Welcome to Chapel Croft.

I liked how the book unraveled itself.  I was interested in Jack’s past yet as the book progressed, there were other more intense issues at hand now.  It felt as if Jack was trying to separate herself from her past and start anew, as she wasn’t saying much about what happened.  As they arrived into Chapel Croft, they were pulled inside Chapel Croft and the events that surrounded this small community.  Jack had seen the small church and she thought that it needed to be revived but she didn’t really know the church’s history nor the people who resided in the town.   Jack was trying to distance herself from one horrible scene in her past and then, she ends up walking right into another one.  As Jack tries to make sense of what has just been uncovered, she realizes that her past is never really gone.   There were plenty of twists inside this book, and they were amazing as the stories unfolded. 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine in exchange for an honest opinion.  Thank you for my copy.

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

3.75 Stars Suspense

Different.  With plenty of strong points, this book captured my attention, as the characters tried to protect their private lives, the only way that they knew how.  As the story kept building and building, something felt off as I read.   Perhaps it was me, perhaps it was my own expectations that were getting in the way but I felt that the tempo of this story was off.  Overall, I did enjoy the book, the story was captivating and I loved how all the twists worked and made my head spin.    

Secrets and lies, what a combination and one to keep you on your toes.  I enjoyed how the plot thicken as the story progressed.  The story starts off with a flashback and then, the narration progresses forward.  This short flashback is important as it sets the stage for one of the main characters.  Just when I thought the story couldn’t get any deeper, something else is thrown into the pot and more events unfolded.  I loved all the different reveals and how the author took the time to slowly introduce them.  The connection to events and items in the story was nicely done and like a puzzle, they all fit together.   I felt like at times, I was siding with one of the characters and then, I would learn something else and I would change my mind.  I just didn’t know which end was up sometimes. 

What I had a difficult time with while reading this novel, was the energy level in the book.  There were some excellent twists in this book and based on these developments, I was expecting this book to become more tense or more dramatic as time continued.  Some of these twists were pretty intense!  Yet, I didn’t feel that way as I read it.  I don’t know, perhaps I was expecting too much or again, it was just me. I did enjoy the book but I felt it was missing this intensity.   It’s like hearing that music from the Jaws movie and expecting something exciting or intense to occur.   The ending of the book, I didn’t really care for that part either. 

I think this was a good read, it contained lots of twists and interesting characters.   The story kept me on my toes and I look forward to reading more from this author.  3.75 stars

Subject matter: rape, death, alcoholism,

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Adele Parks, and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to me in exchange for an honest opinion.

Goodnight Zoom by Andy Ankowski

4.5 stars Humor

Many of you will be able to connect with this adult spin-off of the beloved Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, as we each try to manage the coronavirus in our own homes.  The room becomes command-center, hosting a variety of items the family needs now that they are stationed at home.  A mask, delivery boxes, and work stations for everyone in the home including one with Zoom online are just a few of the items that are scattered around the room. 

Some of the subject matter is not for younger readers but that’s my own opinion. It’s a creative, entertaining story with entertaining illustrations that’ll put a smile on your face. An enjoyable book for older readers. 4.5 stars

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

3 stars Fiction

I liked how the author’s writes but I didn’t like how this book developed. The author had some great points in this book but her main character, I thought, was a mess.  The longer I read this book, the more irritated I became with her and I wanted to slap her.

Eve considered herself a writer, yet all her accomplishments amounted to, were a few small pieces that she’d written many years ago.  For years, Eve struggled to finish anything that she’d started to write. I’m thinking that she really needs to do is to talk to a few people about writing or move on, what is really going on here? Eve also worked as an editorial assistant for The New Yorker Magazine.  Growing up, Eve had wanted to become a writer and it’s as if, she can’t let go of this dream. 

Eve doesn’t get the promotion at The New Yorker but she hears about the possibility of a job back in her hometown.  If she heads back home, Eve realizes this position will not a step-up but it just might be what she’s looking for. 

Eve starts to fall in-and-out of love with just about everyone after she went back home. Perhaps she had relationships before then, I don’t know, but she flies through them now.  Her last love affair though pushed me over the edge.  Perhaps, she’s insecure or it’s some other issue but I just didn’t understand why her last guy?  Come on!

There were a few interesting reveals in the story and I did enjoy them. When Eve moves back home to start her new job, we learned about her family and her relationship with them. They had a great impact on her. 

Overall, it was an okay read, I just think that Eve’s social life needed to take a different direction. 

I want to thank MacMillan for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

She Crossed the Line Too Many Times. Too Close by Natalie Daniels

5 stars Fiction/Suspense

If only she had listened to her gut feelings, perhaps her life would have turned out differently.  I had to wonder as I turned countless pages, was this woman really off her rocker or was it something else that pushed her over the edge? This was one of those stories that carried me along, page after page, chapter after chapter (and those chapter are long!) until the very end. 

I met Emma, a forensic psychiatrist, who was assigned Connie, a patient at a mental hospital. Emma has a great professional front but personally, Emma is hiding something. What Connie did to land in the hospital, I have no idea at this point, but Emma’s job was to decide if Connie would be able to stand trial. I immediately liked Connie when I met her but as story progressed, my feelings towards her were all over the place.  Connie was clever, crafty and also manipulative yet at times, I was wondering what had possessed her, her actions were driving me up the wall! 

The story flashes back and forth, from the past to the present. We get the story how Connie ended up hospitalized and also about Connie and her relationships now.  The author threw in a few dramatic punches in the stories which I really enjoyed and I couldn’t get this book out of my head. 

With the doctor constantly visiting, Connie gets tired of her endless questions and battering.  She just doesn’t know the answers and doesn’t want to remember. Then, Connie sees an opportunity and decides to turn the tables. It becomes rather fun now when the doctor arrives, as Connie tries on her own invisible white coat and plays her own version of doctor.  In the doctor’s volatile state, Connie manipulates her way into the doctor’s head rather quickly.  I began to wonder with the door closed, who was the patient and who was the doctor, as the line began to get rather blurry.

It all still comes back to, what did Connie do to land herself into the hospital?  The plot deepens as her children are introduced and their feelings towards her are revealed.  I liked that the author slowly reveals parts of this mystery to the readers throughout the chapters, creating suspense and drama.  I could feel the tension building.  This was a great suspenseful story, one that I really enjoyed and one that I highly recommend.

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishing and BookPage for supplying me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I won a copy of this book in a Sweepstakes at BookPage. I’m sorry that I missed the ARC’s debut deadline.   

The Vanishing Season By Joanna Schaffhausen

4 stars Mystery

It’s that time of the year again, Ellery’s birthday is right around the corner.  For Ellery, unfortunately, she suspects that again, this birthday will not be a time for celebration.  It always began with her mail.  Opening the envelope, Ellery knew the minute her eyes landed on the colorful front what she was holding.  The greeting inside was just the beginning, its deception was just a part of the mystery that Ellery was a part of. Would this year be any different?

Ellery is a female officer who has moved into a small town where she is the only female on the payroll.  Ellery believes that some murders have been committed yet there haven’t been any bodies recovered. She has been connecting the “dots” in a few cases and she believes that she’s uncovered a pattern.  Now, Ellery is predicting the next murder.  However, no one is listening to her.  The real story is, Ellery is not telling her colleagues everything she knows about these cases and the clock is ticking.  What are you going to do Ellery?  You can’t delay your birthday.

With twists and turns, I enjoyed this griping mystery as Ellery works to uncover the pieces and get everyone on board.  I enjoyed the small town of Woodbury, the main characters with their flaws and the character’s history.  This was an entertaining, exciting book and Joanna Schaffhausen is an author that I look forward to reading in the future.   

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

4.5 stars Fiction

Wow!  Let me see if I can find the correct words to describe this book: enticing, captivating, startling, and remarkable.  The more I read of this book, the more questions I had and the more I needed to know.  The females who lived on this island fought for their own survival, barricaded behind a fence, they fought to live, yet somehow the Tox had made its way into their compound, so what is the fence keeping out?  

They were all girls inside this huge house, originally labeled Raxter School for Girls, located on an island. What’s left of them, live in quarantine, staying alive by the rations supplied to them by boat and brought to the house by the Boat Girls and an adult, the only people allowed past the fence.

The authorities are still working on a cure and the girls were left in the dark about the Tox.  Waiting and living with their conditions, each of them are growing older and watching each other, as each one of them receives their own form of the Tox and have their “first.” Individually, as one of the girls begins twitching and then shaking, I was eager for what was about to begin but nervous and scared for the actual event to occur.  

The story is told by Hetty and compared to some of the other girls at Raxter, Hetty is down-to-Earth.  Byatt sleeps next to Hetty on the bottom bunk and Reese sleeps on the top bunk, you really get to know these girls in the novel as they are very close to one another.  One day, Byatt is missing.  How can she be missing when no one goes outside the fence?

The novel felt creepy and mysterious, like there was a big secret that no one was telling you.  What was beyond the fence was exciting and it felt like Little Red Riding Hood mother said, “stay on the path.” I really enjoyed the author’s writing, the imagery I had while reading was fantastic.  I liked the storyline and how, there were times that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This was one of those books that ran in a cycle for me, it was slow at times, then fast and this cycle continued as parts of the novel’s mystery was revealed throughout its pages.  There were a few times that I had to go back and reread a few things, but other than that, I really enjoyed this novel. 4.5/5

Thank you, Penguin Random House, for providing a copy of this novel to me in exchange for an honest opinion.