Genre: Thriller

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Book Review: Pretty Baby

March 25, 2016 Book Review, reviews 6

Book Review: Pretty BabyPretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Published by Mira on July 28th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 380
Source: purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

 

Truly psychological in the thriller category, Pretty Baby takes us on a slow burn to a crashing climax. Also, probably more true-to-life as well, truth be known. Everyone has hidden motivations that dictates their every move.

Heidi is a bleeding heart devoted to her work with literacy. Her husband, Chris, is an investment banker focused on money, money, money. While Willow is the homeless, disturbed teenage mother that Heidi takes in, much to her husband and daughter’s chagrin.

Told in alternating chapters, Chris, Willow and Heidi slowly peel away the layers of crazy. Heidi can be a bit annoying and obnoxious to those who do not share her same concerns for society’s underprivileged and/or abused. Willow is the tragic image of all that can, and does, go wrong in an abused child’s life. Chris gradually becomes the mirror to¬†Heidi and Willow, giving us an up close glimpse.

Pretty Baby was, overall, sad for me. Having worked with abused children and families for so long I know how heart-breaking it is to see a child you just can’t reach. . .to want to take a child under your wing and give her safety, shelter and love. What many don’t realize (or want to accept) is that there’s a lifetime of hurt, pain and trauma to overcome. Children are not automatically grateful for the love and care – many resist, push boundaries, test you to see what it will take to make you give up on them.

Pretty Baby clearly depicts what happens when what motivates us gets skewed; when perceptions are completely wrong; and how the best of intentions can all go horribly wrong.

Recommended for those who enjoy Tess Gerritson, Lisa Unger and Heather Gudenkauf.

What psychological thriller have you read recently? I need some recommendations to get me through til Kubica’s latest comes out in May! ūüėČ

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four-stars

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What does The Shining Have to do with The Night Sister?

October 2, 2015 Book Review 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

What does The Shining Have to do with The Night Sister?The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Published by Doubleday on August 4th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

The first and only time I saw the movie “The Shining” I got to the part with the little kid on the tricycle and had to leave the room. . .I’m a huge scaredy cat when it comes to horror. ¬†Add a creepy hotel and Jack Nicholson and to this day I have nightmares of “Red Rum!”

But. I’m human enough to thoroughly enjoy scaring myself to death. Having read The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon I knew I had to read her latest, The Night Sister. ¬†Set in a creepy motel in rural Vermont with¬†a replica of the London Tower at the entrance, The Night Sister has location, location, location in spades. ¬†The setting drew me in and swept me along even more so than the characters. ¬†Jennifer McMahon is a master at setting up an atmosphere of spooky without depending on blood and gore.

I was reminded of the old “Dark Shadows” episodes while I was reading The Night Sister – well, “Dark Shadows” and “The Shining!” ¬†The book gives you that sense of dark and foreboding. ¬†The characters were lightly drawn but engaging. ¬†At times it was a little difficult to keep up with who was who but the plot kept me flipping pages as fast as I could.

If you’re looking for a creepy, atmospheric, plot-driven novel for your October reads, definitely pick up The Night Sister. ¬†Then come back and tell me at one point you figured out who killed the family in the opening pages!

Linking up to Jenn’s Bookshelves for Murder, Monsters, Mayhem and the R.I.P. X challenge.

R.I.P. X

Many thanks to Doubleday Books for the review copy.

[Tweet “What does The Shining have to do with The Night Sister? “]

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The Question of Nature v. Nurture Tackled in “In the Blood”

January 20, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

The Question of Nature v. Nurture Tackled in “In the Blood”In the Blood by Lisa Unger
Published by Pocket Books on July 22nd, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Is nature or nurture at fault when a child is ‘troubled?’ ¬†This is the basis of Lisa Unger’s novel In the Blood. ¬†After years of working with abused children and their families asking that very question ~ yet never found the answer.

She thinks that we are made and not born, that it is the power of choice that forms our lives. ¬†With enough positive energy and good feng shui we can overcome almost anything. ¬†She’s one of those, the magical thinkers. ¬†I think I envy her, even if I can hardly suppress my disdain.

Lana is a psychology major at a small college tucked away in upstate New York trying to escape the horrific murder of her mother six years prior. ¬†She has a tumultuous relationship with one of her roommates, Rebecca ‘Beck,’ and sees her advisor, Langdon, as both mentor and friend. ¬†Lana gets a job babysitting Luke, an 11-year-old troubled child attending Fieldcrest where both Lana and Langdon have worked. ¬†When Lana has an argument with Beck over her relationship with Langdon and Beck subsequently disappears, Lana’s controlled life is turned upside down.

Lisa Unger outdid herself with this one. ¬†In the Blood read like a true crime novel, unbelievable and yet so freaky scary enough to be true. ¬†The plot develops more on a slow burn, perfectly paced. ¬†Lana is disturbed enough to keep us questioning her motivations while 11-year-old Luke puts the terror in terrible! ¬†Having read Lisa Unger’s Fragile {review here} and loving it, I can honestly say she has simply stepped up her game, giving her readers and fans a heavily researched thriller like no other. ¬†Highly Recommended.

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The Justice Series & Vigilantes Recovered

November 5, 2014 Book Review 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

The Justice Series & Vigilantes RecoveredThe Unforgivable Fix & The Red Hot Fix by T.E. Woods
Published by Alibi Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

The Red Hot Fix opens several months after the explosive ending to The Fixer. ¬†Psychologist Lydia Corriger is still recovering from her injuries while Mort Grant has been promoted to Chief of Detectives. ¬†Someone is killing johns in the city in a most humiliating manner. ¬†Mort along with his son Robbie {who now has a bestseller under his belt after writing about ‘the fixer’}; and Mort’s close-knit team are hot on the case.

Personally I really enjoy the aspects of Lydia’s treatment of the patients in her practice. ¬†While The Red Hot Fix does not see Lydia back in the office, she does befriend an eight year old girl, Maizie, who has tremendous problems of her own. . .and needs a bit of ‘fixin!’

T.E. Woods does a remarkable job of weaving Lydia and Mort’s story lines throughout The Red Hot Fix. ¬†Although this one was just a bit slower in the beginning than The Fixer, it quickly picks up and has you guessing at the identity of the killer til the very end. ¬†Woods is adept at throwing in the red herrings and while I did eventually figure out the identity of the ‘john’ killer it wasn’t until the last 1/4 of the book! Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good suspense.

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The Unforgivable Fix has Lydia slowly taking on clients again and supervising a PhD researcher in his journey to becoming a fully licensed psychologist. ¬†Mort has to rely on Lydia’s unique skill set in order to protect his family. ¬†We see Lydia and Mort’s story intersect and weave together throughout The Unforgivable Fix – Lydia’s supervision of the researcher, an investigation of sexual abuse allegations, ¬†Mort’s investigation of an international drug kingpin, and the return of Mort’s prodigal daughter, Allie {who is on the run from a Russian drug lord!}

The Unforgivable Fix is intense, fast-paced and has you questioning ‘what actions are unforgivable?’ Woods is brilliant in her ability to have multiple stories going at once and each begs the question of what can you excuse and what is unforgivable. ¬†Some series leave me bored after the first couple of books. ¬†With Woods’ The Justice Series it feels like she is only gearing up. ¬†I love Lydia’s character even when I want to shake her and tell her to trust Mort, tell him what’s going on and Mort? Well, Captain Mort needs a good kick in the pants, knock over the head or punch in the nose. . .but he is still such a darling!

If you have not read The Justice Series novels yet, what the heck are you waiting on?  T.E. Woods is one of those novelists you can escape with for a few hours and once you finally come up for air, truly feel as if you have been on a wild roller coaster ride.  highly recommend you start with The Fixer because of the  backstory that is important to grasp prior to getting into The Red Hot Fix and The Unforgivable Fix. 

What guilty pleasure author do you read for theme-park-worthy escapism?

 

Tremendous thanks to TLC Book Tours for making us a stop of tour!  To follow along the tour and check out other opinions of The Justice Series please visit TLC Book Tours here.

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Dark and Twisted is The Never List {A Book Review}

August 13, 2014 Book Review, reviews 8

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Dark and Twisted is The Never List {A Book Review}The Never List by Koethi Zan
Published by Pamela Dorman Imprint on Apri 19th, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 303
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

The Never List is the only book I brought with me to the beach thinking it might take me a few to complete. ¬†No such luck. ¬†The first time I picked up The Never List I did not put it down til I was completely through – and that includes during the walk across the road from the beach! ¬†Thank goodness for traffic lights and car horns ūüėČ

But.

While it is one of those novels that reads very quickly The Never List does have a few meh and huh moments {technical review terms I know!} ¬†A pair of high school best friends are in a car accident that changes both of their lives. ¬†Afterward, to gain a semblance of control over their lives they create a list of things to never ever do – like never go to the library in the dark alone, never park too far away from a destination, never get in a car with a stranger. . .never never never. ¬†Isn’t there some law of probability that if you focus on the negative then the negative is what happens?!?

A psychological thriller that has a purely evil and sadistic kidnapper toying with Sarah and the two other girls he held years after their rescue. ¬†Although the kidnapper is in jail he sends strange letters to the girls through the FBI. ¬†His manipulation never-ending sends them on a macabre journey both down memory lane and in Oregon where the girls were held. ¬†Sarah is desperate to find her best friend’s body and prevent the kidnapper from being paroled. ¬†Dragging fellow survivor Tracy with her, Sarah tries to decipher the clues left in the letters. ¬†Christine, the third survivor simply wants to move on and have no part of any investigating.

Before Sarah embarks on her own investigation we learn she has stayed in her NYC apartment for over five years – never opening the windows, never leaving her white pristine sanctuary and only allowing a select few into her apartment – an FBI agent, her shrink and Bob the doorman. ¬†Out of desperation to keep the kidnapper in prison and to find her best friend’s body, Sarah has to leave her sanctuary in order to follow the clues left for the three girls in their letters. ¬†The action in the book is what kept me turning the pages even though I had to suspend disbelief quite a bit – I still had to know what was going to happen next.

The Never List is dark, disturbing and has characters that are not fully developed, but it is one of those that will have you flipping pages simply to see what happens. ¬†Torture is alluded to and described in small doses, just enough to have you cringing and vowing to never ever ever get in a car with a stranger. ¬†Even though I cannot glowingly recommend The Never List I will say I’m looking forward to what debut author Koethi Zan publishes next. ¬†She certainly kept my attention for those few hours it took to finish The Never List!

I’m a huge music fan so now that authors are including their spotify lists I’m over the moon with joy. ¬†I have to admit The Never List spotify playlist is sufficiently creepy with a bit of techno. ¬†But cool. yes, very cool.

Do you have a “never list?” What would you add?

 

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