Book Reviews

Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)

Author: Dathan Auerbach
Goodreads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.88)
Pages: 243
Published: June 2012 | 1000 Vultures

Goodreads Synopsis:

How much do you remember about your childhood? In Penpal, a man investigates the seemingly unrelated bizarre, tragic and horrific occurrences of his childhood in an attempt to finally understand them. Beginning with only fragments of his earliest years, you’ll follow the narrator as he discovers that these strange and horrible events are actually part of a single terrifying story that has shaped the entirety of his life and the lives of those around him. If you’ve ever stayed in the woods just a little too long after dark, if you’ve ever had the feeling that someone or something was trying to hurt you, if you remember the first friend you ever made and how strong that bond was, then Penpal is a story that you won’t soon forget, despite how you might try.

My Thoughts (5 Stars)

I have never been so afraid to live in the middle of the woods … until now. 

This is a book that a friend of mine; Brittany over at @brittreads recommended to me. It’s a book I was looking for during the Halloween season that I never really got around to reading. Finally I ended up picking it up and now I wish I hadn’t.

This book is realistically terrifying. Not only did it have me on the edge of my seat, I was afraid to read it alone. IN MY OWN HOUSE. This book gives stalking and child predator a whole new meaning.

When I first picked up the novel, I could not figure out if this author himself went through this or if this was strictly a made up story. Part of me is still on the fence but I was reassured this was truly fiction. Fiction or not though, I have never been so incredibly pissed off in a book nor have I ever felt so sick to my stomach.

Penpal looks into a young boys life and consistently stays around his kindergarten age while the story is being told. Only the last two chapters are told during his high school/adult life. During these times the narrator talks about the friendship he made with a specific child and how they were so adventurous. You watch them as children play imaginary games, explore imaginary places but what you don’t expect to find is them being stalked by someone you never get to understand completely.

The ending to this story is very hard to swallow. I expected the ending but not in a way that it was laid out. The synopsis was not kidding when it says “Penpal is a story that you won’t soon forget, despite how you might try,” because I would love to forget what I read.

This was the most terrifying, horrific, scary and effed up story I have read in my lifetime. All 27 years of it at least, and I recommend it to everyone who is brave enough to enter his life.

How far can you go into the woods? 


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Book Reviews

The Couple Next Door (Shari Lapena) @sharilapena

Author: Shari Lapena
Goodreads Rating: 
★★★★☆ (3.74)
Pages:
308 
Published:
August 23, 2016 | Pamela Dorman Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall. Your neighbor told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone. You’ve never had to call the police before. But not they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there. What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

My Review (4 Stars)

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this novel. This book had me on the edge of my seat and I could not read it fast enough. As in my last review most of you learned I went through a tough couple weeks when it came to reading books and doing bookish things. I’m so glad I finally read through this entire novel. It was very fast paced, has a lot of twists and turns and has the craziest ending!!

This was the first of Shari Lapena’s work that I have read and I can easily say that I enjoy her writing style. I love the way she led all of the clues in one direction at the beginning of the book. I indefinitely thought I had it all figured out when it came to the culprit and she threw in this tiny curveball that sent me back to square one trying to figure it all out again.

The character relationships and the characters backstories was something that didn’t please me the most. This book did not allow you to form a relationship with the characters, it didn’t give you time to decide if you liked a character or not. This book came down to figuring out the truth and getting justice for baby Cora. I did however, love Anne’s backstory. She was an emotional wreck and gave the reader quite the thrill ride!

At about half way through the novel, I figured out what was going on inside the story. From then on, it was a race to finish the book to get the answers to why this person did what they did. Why go to such an extreme of kidnapping a child?!

This was also a book that gave me a hard time deciding what to rate. I teetered on the fence for a 3 1/2 star and a 4 star. The reason I chose 4 stars is because I was significantly entertained through most of the book. I never thought that it was dragging or lagging very much to disinterest me. Would I recommend this novel, absolutely. It’s every parent’s nightmare.


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Book Reviews

The Missing Girls (Carol Wyer) @Bookouture @carolewyer

Author: Carol E. Wyer
Goodreads Rating:
★★★★★ (4.43)
Pages:
392
P
ublished: September 14th, 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:

One girl found dead. Another girl gone… Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever. When a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for DI Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer. No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit’ her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered.

This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial killer. As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart. Roby can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

My Review: (5 Stars)

This novel blew me away! I was hooked on page one! This is my favorite DI Carter book in the series so far!!! 

The Missing Girls was read as a buddy read with my bestie Megan over at Coffee By the Novel. This book was a novel that was completely devoured and very hard to put down. The DI Robyn Carter series has been one of my favorite series. It has currently surpassed the Helen Grace series written by M.J. Arlidge in my eyes.

I love everything about Robyn Carter. I love her work ethic, I love her thought process, her instincts, her devotion to not only her job but to her colleagues, and most of all I love DI Carter for the way she still loves her husband after his passing.

When decided to read this book, both Megan and I had already been huge fans. This book could not have added more suspense to our lives along with more love we could give Wyer.

The Missing Girls had me hooked from page one. I had life happen in the middle of this book and could not read it as fast as I would have liked but the times I was reading, I was completely captivated by Wyer’s writing. The story line, writing style and character development were on point in this novel.

There are just the right amount of twists and turns. Especially when you’re not ready for them. I can say that the culprit I had in mind was definitely not who it turned out to be. Even with this books’ incredibly dark side, it had a very light emotional side as well. With Robyn giving more light into her married life, her relationship with Amelie and her new found work relationship with Shearer, it contains the perfect amount of “awe” moments for this twisted psychological thriller.

This book deserves a 5 star rating and a lot of praise! If someone asked me for a recommendation, the series would be a definite first thought while recognizing this book as my favorite! December cannot come fast enough to get my hands on The Silent Children.

Make sure you stop by Megan’s blog to read her review of The Missing Girls (DI Robyn Carter, #3)!

Thank you to Carol Wyer, Bookouture and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book for an honest review!


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Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Without Merit (Colleen Hoover) @colleenhoover @AtriaBooks

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Welcome to my stop on the Without Merit blog tour! I am so excited to be participating in my first blog tour today for an amazing author that I adore so much. I fell in love with her writing when I first read Confess. I have been under Colleen Hoover’s spell ever since!

So let’s start off with the synopsis of her new novel!

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Synopsis:

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Poignant and powerful, WITHOUT MERIT explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love.

My Thoughts: 

After reading strictly crime thrilling novels for a whole year, this was such a REFRESHING read that I needed. I have been a Colleen Hoover fan for last 2 1/2 years. Her first novel I read was Confess. Upon reading that book, she put me under her spell. I spent the next several days, weeks, and months binge reading all of her novels she had published back then. Along the way I have purchased every physical copy and have my own shelf dedicated to her.

I was so excited to read Without Merit when I found out she wrote a new novel. But I was not as excited as when I finished it. This book guys and ladies is hands down my most favorite one she has written. I have never felt so many emotions in any other books than a Colleen Hoover book and this book hit all my feels. I laughed, I became angry, I sympathized, I cried, and I was thankful. This will be a book I will recommend over and over again.

I do want to warn readers though, without giving anything away, you will read about depression, you will read about anxiety and you will read about attempted suicide. I personally have never had depression symptoms but I’ve definitely have had bursts of anxiety. This book does not come across as dark and dismal. This is a book about a family coming together when they learn that secrets and lack of communication are not the key to life. I loved the way the book referenced each of these mental health issues and how they handled it as a family. It broke my heart in so many good ways.

I know some of you may now be thinking that this is going to be a dark read that may put off readers. I’m here to tell you now that it’s not. Even though it touches on some dark issues, it is a light read that will have you falling in love with the Voss family.

Without Merit was a fast paced, captivating read and I encourage any Colleen Hoover fan to buy this book NOW! If you have not read a book by her yet, please choose this one to be your first. You will not regret it and if you do, well this will be a subject we disagree on! 🙂

It is so hard for me to sit here and talk about a novel that I am going to deem as my most favorite of 2017 and not talk about the characters and give away spoilers. This is a book I wished characters were real life because I would surround myself with these people to not only learn from them, but to learn how to love with them.

Well done Hoover. (5 Stars)

Thank you to Atria Publishing for providing me with this advanced readers copy, and thank you to Colleen Hoover for bringing out the ugly cry in me once again! It was an absolute joy to provide my honest thoughts on this novel. 

About the Author:

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Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Please visit ColleenHoover.com.

FIND COLLEEN ONLINE:

Website: www.ColleenHoover.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ColleenHoover

Twitter: @ColleenHoover

Instagram: @ColleenHoover

WITHOUT MERIT

BY COLLEEN HOOVER

http://www.withoutmeritbook.com

Atria Books Paperback | 384 pages | ISBN: 9781501170621 | October 3, 2017 | $16.00

eBook: 384 pages | ISBN: 9781501170638 | $7.99

  

ORDER WITHOUT MERIT:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wiVRyr

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2vtqsL8

Books-a-Million: http://bit.ly/2wTAhCc

iBooks: http://apple.co/2xrD7ie

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2gqKTBG

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xgXDBh

Google: http://bit.ly/2eRebFr

Nook: http://bit.ly/2gXsDA2

 

Now for the fun….the #WithoutMerit Contest!

Enter the Rafflecopter to win a limited edition signed hardcover copy of WITHOUT MERIT! (5 winners in total) Contest is open until October 30th!


Thanks for stopping by! I had an amazing time writing this review and I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did! Don’t forget to let me know how you enjoy this book when you read it!

 

Book Reviews

How I Lost You (Jenny Blackhurst) @JennyBlackhurst

Author: Jenny Blackhurst
Goodreads Rating: 
★★★★☆ (3.89)
Pages:
384
Published:
October 10, 2017 | Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

My Review (4 Stars):

This was a novel that had me on the edge of my seat asking for more!

Starting off this story we meet the main character Susan Webster whose name is now Emma Cartwright. She has been in a Psychiatric Institute for the past four years. Now she is out and has the chance to start over. She has done a great job so far. She’s made new friends, kept an old friend from the institute, Cassie, and is well on her way to living a new life. Until it all goes wrong, or maybe I should say right. Inside an envelope that has been dropped off on a Sunday there is a handsome picture of a 4 year old boy. On the back of that picture is the name of her son who she killed almost 3 years ago.

The first person Emma calls is Cassie. Cassie reassures her that this is just a nasty prank. Even though she has a new identity, if a person wanted to, they could figure out your past. People don’t like child killers, do they? There is completely no way possible that her son is still alive. Or is there?

One day, as Emma is sitting at home trying to convince herself that her son is not alive, a man comes to the door. His name is Nick and he knows exactly who she is and she knows exactly who he is. A reporter. Not feeling at all comfortable she slams the door in his face.

Emma starts experiencing the feeling of being watched. She has had her house trashed and she even came home to her cat murdered. Who could be tormenting her like this? Turning to her new found friend, Nick, and her dearest friend Cassie, they set out to find the perpetrator behind the tormenting. But more importantly to find out if Dylan is still alive.

Deep within these pages you see a woman go from confidently believing in the fact that she killed her child, to not knowing who she can trust, digging up her husbands past secrets and fighting for her life. Then to realize that she spent the last four years in a place she might not have deserved to be at.

I really enjoyed Emma/Susan’s character. Not having children of my own, I could still very easily put myself in her shoes. I mourned the loss of her eleven-month-old son. I was terrified with her as she was getting harassed and attacked. I even fell in love with her when it came to the characters of her past and her present. She was very easy to get long with it which is something that wins me over in a novel!

Throughout this novel, I always thought I had the answer. I always thought I had the characters figured out, only to be side-railed with another twist to remind me not to judge too soon. This book was absolutely clever and can easily be read in one sitting

This was a novel that had me on the edge of my seat asking for more! There were twists, there were turns and then there were shocking moments that had me saying “oh sh*t!” The characters are developed perfectly and are charming. But while you’re reading, I must warn you: trust at your own risk!

Thank you tremendously to Atria Books, NetGalley and Jenny Blackhurst for allowing me to read this novel for my honest review!


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Book Reviews

The Breakdown (B.A. Paris) @BAParisAuthor

 Author: B.A. Paris
Goodreads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.04)
Pages: 415
Published: July 18, 2017 | Harper Collins UK

Goodreads Synopsis:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? It all started that night in the woods. Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead. Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her. Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

My Thoughts (4 Stars)

Entering the book we meet one of few main characters, Cass Anderson, wife to Matthew and best friend to Rachel. She is a school teacher and after a party for the end of the year, to celebrate holiday, she decided to leave early to be home with her husband since having a migraine. On her way home she took a dark, twisty road that Matthew warned her not to take since it being nighttime and it’s severely storming. While on this road she sees a car pulled off to the side and her better instinct tells her to keep going, but somewhere deep down inside she knew the woman she just passed needed her help.

Not being able to tell if the woman needed help seeing she never got out of her car nor flashed her signals to Cass, Cass went home. The next morning when Cass wakes up she finds out that the woman she passed last night is dead. And she was her friend.

Being distraught, feeling like she helped kill her friend, Cass ends up becoming very paranoid. With the killer on the loose, she starts receiving phone calls with somebody on the other line yet they never say a word. Then the worst happens, Cass starts forgetting important things. What the alarm code is, how to work the microwave, not remembering placing orders, get-together’s, birthdays and dinner dates.

But just as she realizes she doesn’t know who she can trust, she gets diagnosed from a doctor with what her mother had before she died, early onset dementia. How can she even trust herself now?

After reading Paris’ first novel Behind Closed Doors I was very excited to hear that she was coming out with a second novel. While reading this book, I had the same likes and dislikes I did when reading her first novel.

There were parts of the story that I felt very bored with. These parts, I felt could have moved a little faster for my pace of reading but the story always knew how to keep me holding on.

I loved that Cass was the narrator of the story. I felt she did a great job at telling the story while having early on set dementia. You could feel the times the Alzheimer’s were really there but then you could tell when there was just a little bit more going on than forgetfulness. Cass, during the first part of the story made it very suspenseful. Being at a murder scene before it happened, keeping the secrets of being down that road to herself, getting creepy phone calls, it all had me on the edge of my seat. Then the middle of the book came and I couldn’t stand Cass. I was getting very fed up with her for how unrealistic she was being in certain situations. I wanted to scream at her myself but once the end of the book came, I could not in all my physical power, put it down.

I’ve been asked a lot when reading this book which was better: The Breakdown or Behind Closed Doors. I REALLY enjoyed both books. Behind Closed Doors started out very slow for me. To the point where I almost put it down but the ending was incredible! The Breakdown, as I said above started strong, got a little weak in the middle and ended with an incredible bang! In my personal opinion, more was happening for me in The Breakdown to stay engaged and I would say that I liked The Breakdown just a little bit more than Behind Closed Doors.

You can click here for my review of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.


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Book Reviews

Here and Gone (Haylen Beck) @HaylenBeck @CrownPublishing

Author: Haylen Beck
Goodreads Rating:
★★★★☆ (4.03)
Pages:
304
Published:
June 20, 2017 | Crown Publishing

Goodreads Synopsis:

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them … Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My Thoughts (5 Stars)

What a jaw-dropping, rollercoaster ride!

I started this book back at the beginning of the month, thinking that I could read two books at once but for the second time, I realized that I am a one book kind of girl. So back when I started this book I had read about four chapters and in that short amount of time, I was hooked.

Picking it up again two weeks later, the novel only intensified. This book was a perfectly well written novel about a mother who will stop at nothing to save her children.

Opening up the novel we meet one of a couple main characters, Audra, mother of Sean and Louise. Audra is a wife who is scared for not only her well being but also her children’s and when she gets pulled over on the highway, she knows something bad is about to happen. The fear of running from New York, running from her husband and running from social services is nothing compared to what she is about to endure when Officer Whiteside pulls her over.

The car is over packed, Audra and the kids are hot and tired so the officer so kindly helps them lighten the load of the trunk until a mysterious substance is found inside and Audra is arrested. After Whiteside calls it in, Officer Collins comes to help and takes the children somewhere safe while Audra is read her rights. But what Audra doesn’t know is that these two officers planned on kidnapping her kids before she was even pulled off onto the side of the road.

Amidst the backlash from the police, FBI and reporters Audra is stuck in a world who wants her head on a silver platter. Watching the news from a local bar is a man who feels connected to Audra, who feels her pain, who has seen this same situation. Danny knows how she feels because it happened to him. He has a violent past and an eye for an eye future. His brain books a flight to Arizona before his body can even process what he is doing. He has to help. He has to know who took his six year old little girl.

This story is chilling, intense and electrifying. It is a page turner that you won’t want to set down. There were times in this book that I actually had to stop reading because I would get so upset and angry.

One thing I really enjoyed about Beck’s writing style is the way he broke up the chapters between different points of view. Between Audra’s, the officers, Sean’s and Danny’s you get a look into the different emotions and perspectives that makes this novel so frightfully amazing.

I want to talk a little bit about a certain character. Sean. Audra’s eldest child. He was so resilient in this novel. The way he steps up from a boy to a man to not only protect his sister but also to take care of her in times of need. He stopped at nothing when it came to finding an escape and his will to survive was astounding. He was easily my favorite character inside the story.

One thing that I wish would have got touched on a little more was Danny’s character at the end of the novel. Something HUGE goes down and it’s left wide open. For the sake of not giving away any spoilers I will leave it at that and once you read it you can let me know what you think may or may not have happened!

I completely enjoyed this thrill ride and will be a book I recommend to others!

Thank you NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Haylen Beck for the opportunity to read Here and Gone for my honest review!


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