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.
Book Club

Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris is a twisted psychological thriller about a couple that is seemingly perfect. Living a life of luxury and filled with love and admiration for one another, Jack and Grace seem to have it all. But not every couple, or person for that matter, is perfect.

Jack is an extremely handsome, successful and wealthy prosecutor that fights against one of the worst types of criminals, abusive men. He has the manners of royalty to boot. It is no wonder that when Grace meets him she is extremely taken by him. He sweeps her off her feet and caters to her, surprising her with trips and houses. He is wealthy enough that Grace no longer needs to work, even though she’d like to stay busy. But he insists on taking over all of the breadwinning.

To their friends eyes, Grace has it so easy and has the most attentive husband. But is he too attentive, too controlling? Grace soon finds that the man she married is not the man she thought he was. And in reality, the work he does has a twisted meaning to him.

Grace has a disabled younger sister that will soon be coming to live with them and Jack could not be more happy. The plans he has are much less than loving.

Will Grace be able to save herself and her sister? Will she get away? Or is she as crazy as he makes her out to be, and imagining it all?

This book will make you second guess those “perfect” relationships you see in others. Everyone has their own secrets and issues behind their doors.

Book Club

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is a dramatic book about a family with a Chinese background that tries to fit in to a predominantly white American community. The father in the family is of full Chinese heritage and the mother is fully Caucasian. The story will tap into the struggle of a mixed race marriage as well as that of growing up biracial.

This book tells the story of a young girl, Lydia, who is faced with a lot of pressure from both her father and her mother. This young girl has a lot of struggles being of a biracial minority within her school, trying to fit in and also trying to live up to her father and mothers completely different expectations.
She is not an only child and while each child within the family has completely different roles, hers holds the most pressure.

When Lydia goes missing and is found no longer alive there are many questions: did the young boy down the street with a troubled upbringing, who has she had been hanging out with every day for the past several months, do something? There’s no way she could have done this to herself, right? She was the perfect daughter, well liked, social, smart, or was that all a facade?

The family struggles to discover what happened while secrets come out. In the end they will be stronger than they were before, even if they never do find out why exactly this tragedy happened.

Book Club

Not That I Could Tell – Jessica Strawser

 

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser is a mystery regarding a missing woman and her children. Where did they go? What happened? Are they alive? These are all questions that her friends and neighbors asked internally and to one another.

She was last seen at a quaint backyard get together with her friends and neighbors. This small neighborhood, located in small town Yellow Springs, Ohio, is full of a handful of strong, close women and mothers. But in this small town, how is it that her friends could know so little about her?

One of her neighbors gets a little too close for comfort while another has been too close to a situation like this before. Even the children of this small little cul-de-sac are affected, one digging around for her self-created “neighborhood newspaper” that will create issues for more than a couple people on the street.

Place yourself within this small community to help figure out what happened and why. Strawser did a great job of telling this story and connecting dots between several relationships and characters.

 

Side Note: Yellow Springs, Ohio has recently come up on my radar, prior to reading this book, and I intend to take a day trip here to document it for the blog under my Fun With The Fam category. It is a small “hippie town” in which the comedian Dave Chappelle lives. It is home to lots of natural springs and hiking, as well as some awesome small owned shops and cafes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was based out of that small little town. Look for my blog post on this small town soon!

Book Club

The Woman In the Window – A.J. Finn

The woman in the window by A.J. Finn is a thrilling and mysterious story about Dr. Anna Fox and her many neighbors.

Dr. Fox is a psychologist who has had a trauma that left her with many life-altering issues of her own, one of which is the inability to leave the comforts of her home.

A lover of black and white movies and a good game of chess, Dr. Fox is often left alone with her thoughts and memories. When her life becomes it’s very own version of a Hitchcock movie everyone, including herself, begins to wonder if she’s living in reality or a horrific made up drama.

This story will have you guessing until the final few pages how damaged Dr. Fox’s mental state may be. Who is real? What is real? Has she just been a lonesome spy? Is she looking out for the protection of her neighbors? Find out for yourself in this psychological thriller.

Book Club

The Family Next Door – Sally Hepworth

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth was captivating tale about 3 women who are neighbors on a cul-de-sac. Fran, Ange and Essie are all mothers and wives but that is the only things they have in common. Each of these women are a little bit different in personality but vastly different in the secrets they each keep.

A new woman, Isabelle, comes into the picture and shakes things up – especially for Essie. Barbara, Essie’s mother and yet another neighbor on the cul-de-sac might hold the biggest secret of all, which Isabelle is ready to share with the world.

Between infidelity, sexuality and paternity questions, these women all have a lot to filter through and deal with. The underlying tone of this book is to be content with the life that you are given. Some of these women have taken or are taking their blessings or lives for advantage. Some have been dealt an extremely rough hand. But in the end, this book makes you want to appreciate what you have. But also stand up for yourself and be appreciated in return.

Secrets are all out in the open in the end. Families are united, reunited or maybe even divided for the best.

This book was unlike our normal psychological thrillers, but it was full of drama, much like a daytime soap opera. It was definitely well received and we intend to read more from this author. Hope you all enjoyed something a little different!

 

Book Club

Two Girls Down – Louisa Luna

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a story about sisters that go missing from their mother’s car while she runs a quick shopping errand, basically every mother’s worst nightmare. With the help of two private investigators that combine their efforts, and the local police department and the FBI, every lead is investigated to attempt to find these two girls.

Two other open missing girls cases from several years prior end up giving clues to what may have happened, what tied these cases together and who may have been at hand. Private Investigators Alice Vega and Max Caplan team up in this terrifying tale in an effort to save these two girls, while also solving the mystery of the other missing girl cases.

Vega and Cap’s relationship is a strange one that develops into something a bit more in time. Vega is a strong, fierce character that doesn’t put up with any bull****. Even though, she has soft spots that crack her from time to time and she comes to find she doesn’t mind being vulnerable with “Cap”. Cap is an ex-officer whose marriage crumbled after he took the fall for another officer years ago and lost his job. Vega ends up fitting in quite nicely to Cap’s family picture with his teenage daughter, Nell.

There are many key characters in this book that each give important bits of information, leading Cap and Vega down the path for answers. But Vega also remarkably can read characters well to know when someone is lying or holding something back.

This book was a great one and well worth the read. It was fun to read from the perspective of the private investigators and follow the case leads rather than from the perspective of the victims. It left you in the dark as to what was going on, why they were taken and by whom.