Book Club

Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

So, I won’t lie – I had figured the twist out on this book fairly early on. However, there were enough characters in this book and the plot line was still delivered well, so it did not stop me from wanting to finish it.

This psychological thriller features an artist Henrietta (“Hen”), her husband Lloyd, their neighbors Mira and Matthew, and Matthew’s brother Richard. Hen and Lloyd had moved into a new neighborhood in the suburbs and quickly took to their next door neighbors,Mira and Matthew, after begrudgingly attending the neighborhood picnic. The fact that the four of them were the only adults on the block without children gave them a common bond off the bat. However from the first dinner date Hen began to unravel who Matthew might be and what he may have done in his past. 

Having suffered at the hands of his verbally and physically abusive father, he now has a hate for all men, especially those that cheat or harm women. Matthew has become some sort of vigilante. But he takes things a bit too far. Helping someone and saving someone from a “bad man” is one thing. But what he does is something altogether different.

Matthew has a brother, Richard, that he has lost contact with over the years. Richard doesn’t come around very often, usually only when Mira is away on business. Now Richard is much more like their father. Very aggressive and chauvinistic towards women, however as faras Matthew is aware he has never acted on any of his thoughts and feelings. That is until Matthew’s friendly coworker comes up missing.

All along, Hen feels she has it all figured out. Even though she had some mental issues in her college years, this is different. She can’t be making it all up, right? Initially she faces off against Matthew with the police, but eventually they begin a sort of extremely odd friendship. Something he has done in the past with several women in his life, many of whom have lost a spouse or boyfriend shortly after the friendship with Matthew began.

Is Lloyd in danger? Has he done anything to be deemed a bad man by Matthew? How will this tale end? Will you figure it out as quickly as I did? Will the truth come out? Has Matthew committed all these criminal acts? Has Richard? Or is Hen losing it again? Will anyone trust her before it is too late? Enjoy!

Book Club

Verity – Colleen Hoover

“Verity” by Colleen Hoover was a little bit of a different, darker read. Being that it features two authors, one helping finish a series for the other who has become an invalid after an accident, there are chapters of her autobiography mixed in with the chapters of this story. That made this book quite a page-turner and a fun read.

In this triangle, there is a gorgeous and kind husband, Jeremy, as well. Verity and Jeremy are said to be “Chronics” – a term made up by Verity for a person who chronically has tragic things happen to them. They have lost two of their three children and now with her accident…it seems the hits just keep on coming.

The main character, Lowen, was selected by Verity’s publisher to finish her serious out since she had a similar writing style. Lowen is invited out to Verity and Jeremy’s home to sort through Verity’s office and find any possible notes regarding her vision for the last three books of the series. Lowen does not find any notes, however she does find a manuscript of an autobiography Verity wrote in the years and months, right up to her accident. Chapter by chapter Lowen uncovers the type of person she believes Verity to be, and it is nothing like Jeremy portrays. All the while Lowen and Jeremy have struck up a connection, putting her in a very tough position to uncover the horrible truth to Jeremy or save him from it.

Could Verity truly have been this heinous person and Jeremy really not have seen it? How did she hide her true character so well? What will Lowen do with the information she has uncovered? And is Verity’s current state real or is it all a hoax?

Find out who wins the man and what happens to that manuscript. I suggest this book for a nice weekend in or even sitting on the beach. It is one you will fly through quickly!

Book Club

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Anonymous Girl is a riveting tale about a young girl, Jess, trying to make her way in the big city. When the opportunity falls into her lap to make a little extra cash one weekend by attending a simple survey on a college campus, she bites the bullet and does so. Whats a girl to do that is strapped for cash? 

The survey is regarding morality and ethics, and as she is posed multiple open ended questions Jess is pressed to open up more and more. At the end of the survey Jess is given the option to further the study with the professor behind the screen for even more money.

Having found out that her family is also falling on hard times, Jess takes the obvious route and chooses to extend the study. To do so, she is required to meet with the professor in a one on one basis for more in depth sessions.

She is also asked to perform “assignments” asked of by the professor, Dr. Lydia Shields. These tasks seem unusual but Jess is ensured that her safety is always the first priority, and that she can stop the sessions at any time.

Little does Jess know, Dr. Shields isn’t just studying morality and ethics, she has an ulterior motive – one that hits much closer to home than expected. Jess also comes to find that she is not the first “subject” to get close to Dr. Shields, who is found to be much more powerful than initially foreseen.

Just how powerful is Dr. Shields? How destructive can she be, especially now that she knows all of Jess’s deep dark secrets? What are all of these assignments for? And who else will be trapped in Dr. Shields’ venomous web?

This book was quite the page-turner. I absolutely loved it. I hope you do as well. Leave a comment below!

Book Club

For Better and Worse – Margot Hunt

“For Better and Worse” by Margot Hunt was a fantastic book involving a couple, consisting of two lawyers, who are struggling with the burden of morality and ethics while dealing with tragic news in regards their son.

Mom is a defense attorney, defending the innocent and guilty alike. The shocking situation concerning their young son causes both mom and dad to act a little out of their element, never being in this kind of position.

The book is split into two parts. The first part is from the perspective of the mother, the second part picking up from the husbands perspective, but always in a forward moving motion. This was a nice break from the books I have read of late, bouncing back and forth between lapses of time.

Each dealing with the news in their own ways, the mother is seemingly left alone a lot to deal which may cause her to let her mind run wild and make some decisions on her own that could affect them both. She might even involve past criminal clients if her husband won’t help.

On top of it all, what is up with her husband? Is he cheating? What are with all those late night business meetings? Can they trust their instincts on the situation? Are others involved lying? Can they protect their son from further victimization? Will they make the right choice? And will they get away with it?

I enjoyed this book and it was a wonderful, quick read. Let me know if you enjoyed it as well!

Book Club

A Killer’s Mind – Mike Omer

“A Killer’s Mind” by Mike Omer was a tantalizing read about Zoe Bentley, forensic psychologist and FBI consultant, and Tatum Gray, FBI agent who has the tendency to go rogue.

Zoe has been mesmerized by the instincts and actions of serial killers since she was a young girl, living in a small hometown of Maynard with one. She has always had the skill set to get inside of the killer’s mind and study them, in turn creating a spot on profile.  

Tatum Gray comes to town, after burning his bridges at the LA office, just in time to take over a new case in Chicago. He quickly flies out and decides he needs the assistance of the highly commended consultant to help him profile the killer.

Once he has Zoe flown out from Quantico to assist him, you find they mix like oil and water with a dash of sexual tension. Over time they learn to work with one another as they attempt to catch this terrifying serial killer, all the while Zoe’s history haunts her and discounts her from clearly profiling the Chicago killer.

Is there a connection of the Maynard and the Chicago killers? What about the clues being sent to her?  Let me tell you that this book ends on the very last page with a spine-tingling open ending – cannot wait to read the next book – “In the Darkness”

Book Club

The Devil Crept In – Ania Ahlborn

“The Devil Crept In” by Ania Ahlborn was a little bit out of my wheelhouse. It was a creepy, gory, and thrilling horror story fit to be told around the campfire. Based in a sleepy town, focused around an intimate family with two young boy cousins who were nearly inseparable. A town where there are entirely too many strays and a lot of missing pets. A town where, once upon a time, even a sweet young boy went missing too.

Young Stevie and Jude are typical boys who play games, sometimes fight and trek through the forest behind their homes quite a bit for entertainment. The tree house they have spent much of their childhood building is their very own fortress of solitude. Stevie, having the abusive stepfather, and Jude’s father having passed away. Losing his father has hardened Jude in many ways, sometimes even towards his best friend and cousin Stevie. But Stevie has always looked up to Jude and finds Jude as the one person he can confide in regarding his home life.

Stevie has had some deeper issues in his past. Sometimes he sees things that aren’t there and he has a difficult time getting his words out due to a speech impediment. Because of this he is found to be insane, or at the very least incredible, by most. This comes to be troubling when Jude disappears one night. Stevie scours the woods and sees something at the old farmhouse they always found eerie and vacant during their forest treks. He tries to help the town find clues as to where Jude has gone. But because Jude has had anger issues and acts out, he is immediately written off as a runaway. Stevie knows that cannot possibly be the case. And then, just like that Jude shows back up. But he isn’t acting anything like himself. He is still angry and mean – but all the time now versus sometimes before. And his health and appearance seem to be continuously getting worse. Of course, Jude is also not speaking about what happened or where he has been.

With the help of Mr. Greenwood, the small-town General Store owner, Stevie digs up clues. But without the belief of his family and the town, he knows he has to do this all on his own to prove something is not right with Jude. Somehow the strays, the pets, and the quiet house in the woods owned by the late town doctor all have to do with what Jude has gone through.

Was Stevie just seeing things when he saw a monster on the porch of that quiet farmhouse in the woods? Will he ever be brave enough to face it? Can he even trust Jude anymore? Enjoy this chilling spine-tingling tale for yourself and let me know your thoughts on this read.

Book Club

Second Life – S. J. Watson

 

Second Life” by S.J. Watson was by far one of my favorite books to have read lately. This story has it all: lust, affairs, lies, blood money, murder, mystery, cybersex, family issues, addiction, and even stalking. The twists and turns in the book kept it very intense and made it extremely hard to put the book down. It is a lengthy novel but I read it within a couple of days! There were moments so suspenseful that when someone approached and spoke to me while I was reading I literally jumped out of my chair! Hate to say, but that happened on multiple occasions during this read!

Julia has it all: a family with a top surgeon as her husband, money is not an issue, she does what she loves for work, and she has close friends. But when her sister Kate suddenly is murdered, Julia seems to risk everything she has to try and figure out what happened – her sobriety and her life. She considers placing herself in her sisters shoes to make contact online with people from some of the multiple websites her sister visited, wondering if one of those virtual relationships had a real world connection.

The possibilities are endless. Kate could have met a violent stranger from her online contacts. She could have come across a bad situation at the wrong time. Someone from her past could be seeking revenge. She could have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd of friends which, with her history, is likely. Julia just wants to figure out what happened to her baby sister. But will Julia go too far? Will she risk everything? And who all could be involved in this? Maybe someone even closer than she thinks. Which path will she choose? And will this second identity she creates to do her online “research” end up jeopardizing her real world?

Let me know if you enjoyed this read as much as I did! In the book club we have read some S.J. Watson books previously, but this has to be my favorite by far!

Book Club

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

 

Have you ever played two truths and a lie? It’s one of those fun games where you tell three facts, two of them true and one a lie, and the others playing the game have to guess which one was the lie. Sometimes these lies can be dangerous or hurtful. And sometimes they can change someone’s life. But the truth of the matter is that while playing this game, you can generally learn a lot about someone. Deep dark secrets, fears or hopes they may have.

“The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sager takes place on an expansive, yet secluded, campground for the prestigious young women, mostly of New York. There are many tales told around the campfire, some true and some made up. Some of these tales may even cause a few campers to disappear. And some of the lies may pave the road for revenge. Poor Emma Davis is in the center of a scandal when her world comes crashing down around her without any clues as to why. Her first year at this RB camp for the summer and she gets to tag along with one of the prettiest and most popular girls at camp, Vivian. Emma comes to find just how manipulative Vivian truly is, and then Vivian and the other girls from her cabin vanish in the night, never to be seen again.

When given the opportunity to return to Camp Nightingale, Emma at first refuses. But tempted with the possibility of figuring out what happened to her cabin mates so many years before, she accepts. A lot of the same players are back at the camp for the summer as well, causing suspicion at every corner. And the campers of now are not much different from the girls years ago. This book has some twists and turns in all the right places. Will Emma solve the mystery? Will she come out alive? Will you be able to tell the difference between the truths and the lies?

Book Club

I’ve Got My Eyes On You – Mary Higgins Clark

 

“I’ve Got My Eyes on You” by Mary Higgins Clark is a story of a young teenage girl, Kerry, found lifeless at the bottom of her pool after a party at her parents home while they were away. There was a witness to the murder, her next door neighbor and life long friend Jamie. The problem is, Jamie has a disability and is unable to tell the story in a way that won’t implicate him for the crime. And the other problem is that Jamie was in the pool as well. The question is – was Jamie a murderer?

As usual, the boyfriend in the situation is always the first to be questioned, and rightfully so as he (Alan) and Kerry had a very public fight at her party. Not to mention, a history of arguments and breakups. It was also found that his alibi was a lie and that he had asked his friends to cover for him. Suspect #2

For some reason neither of the potential suspects really fit the crime. The sweet neighbor next door and the passionate Princeton-bound boyfriend. Somewhere there are clues that will tell the true tale.

There are other connections Kerry had made along the way. Other people she had upset. And maybe even secrets she knew about, that could have cost her life. As the suspect list gets longer and the clues keep coming in, her sister Aline is back in town and now a guidance counselor at her and her sister’s old school. The perfect position to help dig around and try to solve her sister’s case.

Although this book seemed to be written a bit juvenile – with the thoughts very brief, leaving little to the imagination, and the chapters very thin – the plot was a good one and kept us questioning. I and my cohort at the book club, Anne, both agreed that we thought a certain character was the killer all along and we were correct. But there are several players that could have been. And all the while you wondered if an innocent person would go down for the crime. I wonder if you will figure it out early as well. Let me know!

Book Club

The Broken Girls – Simone St. James

 

“Broken Girls” by Simone St. James was quite the terrifying read. Filled with murders, secrets and ghostly tales, this book is a mix of stories from the past to solve two completely separate crimes, but they all were committed on the same, spooky grounds of a private school for girls, Idlewild.
Each of four girls sharing a dorm at Idlewild have their own tragic story to tell as to why their path ended up there. They confided all of their secrets with one another and became inseparable, until one of them mysteriously goes missing. The girls left relentlessly search for their friend and roommate, to no end. It has consumed their lives.
Years after their friend went missing, another crime happens on the same school grounds. The sister of Fiona Sheridan, our main character, was brutally murdered and left on display. Fiona is a writer, as well as her father. So she has the ability to research and dig up dirt, which she devotes her life to, in order to prove that the person convicted of her sister’s crime was in fact the killer.
When the school is abruptly purchased and is being restored, Fiona takes it upon herself to dig into the backgrounds of the family taking over. As she researches and finds out about the missing schoolgirl, she digs into school files hoping to help solve that case along the way. In all of her research she comes across yet another crime that potentially ties to her sister’s. With the town hunky cop (Jamie) as her boyfriend, this dynamic duo attempt to solve all the crimes and give peace to so many that have been hurting and searching for answers for years, and even decades.