Book Review: Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

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Title: Tangerine
Author: Christine Mangan
Publisher: Ecco
Publish Date: March 27, 2018

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

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Alice and Lucy were roommates in college. Following a tragic accident, the two friends haven’t spoken in years. Alice is now married and living with her husband in Tangier, when Lucy makes a surprise visit.

Told with alternating viewpoints, both Alice and Lucy relate their perspectives. Alice is weak and anxious. Lucy is outspoken and manipulative. A clever and mysterious story unfolds, that, admittedly, did not go in a way I was imagining. Loved the setting of 1950s Morocco though.

A slow burning historical suspense. Haunting, twisted, and dramatic.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

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Title: All the Beautiful Lies
Author: Peter Swanson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: April 3, 2018

Harry Ackerson has always considered his step-mother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “other worldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, he returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help one another pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

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Days before Harry is set to graduate college, his father dies. His father’s death is suspicious, and the authorities aren’t sure if his death was an accident, suicide, or murder. Harry returns to the small town in Maine where his father lived. While in town, Harry spends time with his stepmother Alice, works in his father’s bookstore, meets the new girl in town, Grace, and tries to connect the pieces surrounding his father’s death.

This book is told with multiple points of view and multiple timelines. The “then” timeline is Alice’s story. The “now” timeline is Harry’s story. Alice’s story is disturbing and uncomfortable to read. Harry’s story is more mysterious. Harry is not mysterious, but the circumstances of his father’s death and the people connected to his father are mysterious.

A slow-burning thriller that focuses on the characters. The action takes a backseat to the characters, but there are some interesting things happening. Harry’s father’s death isn’t the only suspicious death in the book. Now, let’s talk about the characters. They are complex and seriously messed up. Pretty much every relationship in the book is May-December, and some are more borderline pedophilia. That makes for tough reading.

Suspenseful, twisted, and tragic.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon

The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon

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Title: The Incendiaries
Author: R. O. Kwon
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publish Date: July 31, 2018

Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet in their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn’t tell anyone she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe.

Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is drawn into a secretive cult founded by a charismatic former student with an enigmatic past. When the group commits a violent act in the name of faith, Will finds himself struggling to confront a new version of the fanaticism he’s worked so hard to escape.

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Will and Phoebe are dating. While their relationship develops, Phoebe also gets involved with an extremist religious group. After the group bombs several abortion clinics, Phoebe disappears.

This story follows three characters – Will, Phoebe, and John. Will and Phoebe meet at college and start dating. John is the leader of a cult that Phoebe gets involved with while she is dating Will. Chapters are divided to distinguish the alternate viewpoints, but it’s a bit deceptive. It is often Will narrating for Phoebe and John, with how he imagines things to be. This didn’t work for me. I was unable to connect with any of the characters, and I was really interested in Phoebe, but her character fell flat.

This is a short novel, but a slow read. This is definitely a character driven story. The action part of the story is known upfront, so the intrigue is in why is Phoebe drawn into the cult. Dark, convoluted, and tragic.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

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Title: The Perfect Mother
Author: Aimee Molloy
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: May 1, 2018

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.

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The May Mothers are a mommy group. They all gave birth in the same month, and now get together to share the joys and fears of being new moms. The group normally meets at the park with their babies, but they decide to go out for drinks one night. One of the mothers, a single mom, is hesitant to leave her little one with a babysitter. The others convince her everything will be fine, but she returns home to find her baby has been abducted. As the new moms fall under suspicion for their night out, relationships are tested.

A relevant topic of a group of new moms that meet on the internet and start a mom group to form friendships, receive advice and support, and get out of the house for a while. Being a new mom is stressful, and moms tend to question and compare themselves, and their kids, to others. This book does a good job of illustrating the pressures we put on ourselves for the unattainable role of perfect mother.

Not all of the members of the May Mothers are central to the plot. The characters, whether they are more fleshed out or not, are all relatable. Nell, Francie, and Collette, are especially well-developed. Sometimes stories with multiple characters can get a little confusing, but the characters are easy to keep up with in this one.

A gripping psychological thriller. Great read for fans of domestic thrillers, especially ones with missing children. Disturbing, complex, and suspenseful.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Weekly Wrap-Up (September 21)

Nightcap Books - Weekly Wrap-Up

This week I started uploading blog posts on weekends. I wasn’t sure I would have enough content to have new posts seven days a week, but it looks like I do… at least for now. Originally, I was planning on only having reviews for new(ish) books on the blog, but I think I’ll occasionally post reviews for books that have been out for a long time. Hopefully, I can keep up the pace and have new content every day, but if I slow down, I’ll go back to posting on Mondays through Fridays.

Saturday, Sep 15 – Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Sunday, Sep 16 – Book Review: Dweller by Jeff Strand
Monday, Sep 17 – Book Review: Time Crawlers by Varun Sayal
Tuesday, Sep 18 – Book Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Wednesday, Sep 19 – Book Review: Reclaiming Raven by Mary Holt
Thursday, Sep 20 – Book Review: The Proposal by S. E. Lynes

My reviews for these books will be posted to, or are already on, Goodreads. The ones that I plan to review on the blog are listed below.

The Birthday by Carol Wyer – Review to come on Sep 27
The Other Sister by Sarah Zettel – Review to come on Oct 6
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh – Review to come Oct 10

Out by Natsuo KirinoLet Me Lie by Clare MackintoshPrincess by James PattersonThe Birthday by Carol WyerThe Other Sister by Sarah Zettel

I use OverDrive and RB Digital to borrow audiobooks from my local library. My reviews for these books can be found on Goodreads.

King's Cage by Victoria AveyardThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerWorlds Collide by Chris ColferThe Drawing of the Three by Stephen KingThe Waste Lands by Stephen KingGathering Blue by Lois LowryMessenger by Lois LowrySon by Lois LowryGame by Barry LygaThe Sea of Monsters by Rick RiordanThe Titan's Curse by Rick RiordanBlack Beauty by Anna SewellThe Reptile Room by Lemony SnicketThe Wide Window by Lemony SnicketThe Miserable Mill by Lemony SnicketThe Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

I’m trying to stay off of Netgalley and Edelweiss until I’ve caught up on ARCs. Hopefully, I can read most of what I have over the next few weeks and start requesting books again.

The Hunting Party by Lucy FoleyWatching You by Lisa Jewell

Isn’t is fun to win stuff? I occasionally win a Goodreads Giveaway, and this week I won one that sounds like a cute cozy read.

>A Cold Brew Killing by Lena Gregory

I have so many books already out from the library, I kept this week’s borrowed books down to only one.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Thanks for stopping by Nightcap Books. Hope you have an awesome week. Happy Reading!

Book Review: The Proposal by S. E. Lynes

The Proposal by S. E. Lynes

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Title: The Proposal
Author: S. E. Lynes
Publisher: Bookouture
Publish Date: September 21, 2018

Teacher Pippa wants a second chance. Recently divorced and unhappy at work, she uproots her life to renovate a beautiful farmhouse in the countryside, determined to make a fresh start. But Pippa soon realises: your troubles are never far behind.

When Pippa meets blue-eyed Ryan Marks, he is funny, charming, and haunted by his past. He might just be the answer to all her problems. But how well does she really know him?

She knows the story of his life, the pain that stays with him, the warmth of his smile and the smell of his skin. She knows he can make her laugh over a glass of wine.

Pippa can tell truth from lies. She’d know if she were in danger. Wouldn’t she?

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Pippa works as a teacher, but dreams of writing a best seller. That proves to be harder than she imagined, especially when she can’t even come up with a first draft for her new book. Enter Ryan, a down on his luck ex-con and door-to-door salesman. When he knocks on Pippa’s door, they have a connection, which leads to a story for her book.

Told from Pippa’s point of view using journal entries and blog posts. She is recently divorced and a little unhappy with her life. She is also impulsive, which sometimes results in questionable decisions on her part.

I was hooked from the opening line, “The first thing you should know, dear reader, is that I am dead.” With an opener like that, I just had to know what happened to Pippa. Clever, dark, and disturbing.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Reclaiming Raven by Mary Holt

Reclaiming Raven by Mary Holt

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Title: Reclaiming Raven
Author: Mary Holt
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Publish Date: June 17, 2018

Murder, even in self-defense, is a preemptive act. Raven Balback’s obsessive husband demands she return to their marriage. The frightened woman, partially paralyzed from her last encounter with him, flees. Unable to locate his wife, Cole burns the buildings that sheltered her in the past and endangers lives. Raven must decide whether to sacrifice herself for strangers or grasp for a life free of her vows.

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Raven is a disabled woman trying to escape from her abusive husband. Her husband, Cole, has contacts that make escaping from him very difficult. She manages to make her way to a new town, but when Cole is unable to locate her, he starts targeting innocent people to bring her out of hiding.

Raven is determined to get away from Cole. Though she is met with additional challenges due to her disabilities, she remains independent and resourceful. Her disabilities are physical (partial paralysis); however, she possesses all her mental faculties. A good thing, because Cole is coming after her with everything he’s got. Cole is methodical and cruel in his hunt for Raven. He is obsessed with her, and thinks he must control everything about her. The story focuses on Raven’s attempt to stay far away from Cole, but there are flashbacks that highlight some of the abusive and disturbing behavior she suffered while married to Cole.

The characters are mostly well developed. Personally, I didn’t care for Raven, though I did feel for her situation and wanted her to get away from Cole. She possesses several great traits in a female protagonist, like being strong-willed and enterprising, but she is also naive. Considering her position and her past experiences, it seems like she would be more discerning. As for Cole, he is really easy to hate. His behavior is frenzied and brutal. The supporting characters add to the story, with some being likable and others not so likable. Kelsey is a particularly maddening character, though very realistic. Hands down my favorite character is Millie, Raven’s service dog.

This is Mary Holt’s debut novel. A gripping thriller about a woman on the run. Dark, disturbing, and fast-paced.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 20, 2018

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants—the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming—until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past—and a voice that won’t be silenced…

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Idlewild Hall was once a boarding school where wayward girls were sent. Since the opening of the school, there were rumors that it was haunted. The school closed in the 1970s and set abandoned until 2014. When the owner of the property decides to restore it, old secrets are revealed.

Told with the multiple timelines of 1950 and 2014. In 1950, four students at Idlewild bonded during their time there, but one of them mysteriously disappeared. In 2014, Fiona can’t stop thinking about her sister’s death twenty years earlier. Her sister’s body was found on the grounds of the abandoned boarding school, and Fiona can’t shake the feeling that there was something off about the case. Fiona is a journalist, and when she learns that a restoration project is set to begin on the school, she thinks it will make a good local interest piece. During Fiona’s visit to the school, a new discovery is made during the renovations.

This novel has a lot happening. For one, Fiona wants to know if there was more to her sister’s death. This is not a story about the wrong guy being caught and convicted for her sister’s death. It’s about there being more to the story than people were led to believe. While working on the article about the boarding school, Fiona discovers clues to an old cold case concerning a missing girl. Concerning the cold case, Fiona interviews old staff and students to connect the pieces. In amongst all of this, there is a ghost story. With so much happening, it is easy for a story to get messy, but this one came together nicely.

I’m not a big fan of paranormal mysteries, so I put off reading this one for a long time. Finally, I caved and checked it out at my local library. Even there, the librarian said how good it was and that she recommended it. So, while not exactly my genre, I had high hopes due to all the praise I’ve heard about this book. I’m happy to say that it was a captivating and suspenseful thriller, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. Atmospheric, eerie, and compelling.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Time Crawlers by Varun Sayal

Time Crawlers by Varun Sayal

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Title: Time Crawlers
Author: Varun Sayal
Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing
Publish Date: June 15, 2018

Alien Invasion, Dark Artificial Intelligence, Time-Travel, High-Tech Mythology, Djinn Folklore, Telekinetics, and life-consuming Cosmic Entities are some major themes in this book which has six tightly-knit, fast-paced Sci-Fi stories.

1. Nark-astra, The Hell Weapon
The weapons he possesses make him the destroyer of worlds, and he burns for revenge. A high-tech take on ancient Indian mythology.

2. Death by Crowd
The dark desires of the masses; darknet websites fueled by a crypto-currency. What lurks in the background – an advanced artificial intelligence?

3. Genie
He rubbed a lamp alright, but what he got was the shock of his life. An entirely sci-fi take on the djinn myth.

4. Time Crawlers
There are individuals who existing in multiple time periods at once, and there are those who know about them….

5. Eclipse
No attacks, no blood-shed, yet there was an invasion and a conquest. Who are these shapeshifter aliens being hounded by an eclipse?

6. The Cave
The fate of an advanced imperial race hangs in balance as a dark celestial entity meets a legendary protector.

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A collection of six short science fiction stories. The stories concern parallel universes, aliens, and technology.

The stories:
1. “Nark-astra, The Hell Weapon” – Apocalyptic revenge using high-tech weapons.
2. “Death by Crowd” – A disturbing darknet world and artificial intelligence.
3. “Genie” – A guy meets a genie, and gets a quick intro to parallel universes and technology.
4. “Time Crawlers” – Time travel and those who know about it.
5. “Eclipse” – Aliens amongst us.
6. “The Cave” – An apocalyptic alien presence.

An imaginative and engaging collection. Several of the stories use dialogue, in fact, some were all dialogue. I enjoyed the humor used in some of the stories. “Genie” was an especially humorous story. Overall, a good collection of short stories. “Death by Crowd” and “Time Crawlers” were my favorites. A quick, fun read for fans of sci-fi.

I received a PDF of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Dweller by Jeff Strand

Dweller by Jeff Strand

Title: Dweller
Author: Jeff Strand
Publish Date: November 19, 2012

When Toby Floren was eight years old, he discovered a monster living in the woods behind his house. A ghastly, frightening creature with claws, fangs, and a taste for human flesh. As he ran out of the forest, Toby felt that he’d been lucky to escape with his life.

Years later, Toby finds comfort with the creature. It’s his own special secret–something that nobody else in the world knows about. Somebody to talk to. Somebody to confide in. Sure, Toby has concerns about his own sanity, but really, what boy wouldn’t want to be best friends with a monster in the woods, especially if he’s being tormented by bullies? The creature, who he names Owen, may be the answer to his problems…

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As a boy, Toby saw a creature in the woods, but his parents convinced him it was all in his imagination. As a teenager, Toby saw the creature again. This time he decided to befriend the creature. They would have each other for friendship, but at a great cost.

A coming of age horror novel. Toby and his creature friend, who he names Owen, have a highly dysfunctional relationship. After all, Toby is a human and Owen is, well, not a human. He is sorta, maybe, Bigfoot’s cousin. Despite that, they manage to maintain a secret friendship over the span of 50 years, so that’s something.

This is an easy, fast read. Oddly, it touches on a variety of emotions. Sometimes depressing. Sometimes humorous. Often disturbing. Good for fans of horror that enjoy a little humor with their gore.

I read a Kindle version of this book.