Book Review: Cold Woods by Karen Katchur

Cold Woods by Karen Katchur


BOOK INFO

Title: Cold Woods
Author: Karen Katchur
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Mystery – Crime
Series: Northampton County #2
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.25


BOOK BLURB

Buried bones of the past rise to the surface in this chilling mystery from the bestselling author of River Bodies.

When the long-buried bones of a man turn up in the middle of December, Pennsylvania homicide detective Parker Reed knows he’s in for a cold case.

Trisha and her friends were teenagers when Trisha’s stepdad went missing. Now, thirty years later, his remains have been found in the mountains. The women have always known there was more to his disappearance than meets the eye, and they must confront their grim past. Secrets can stay secret a long time in the lonely Appalachian foothills—but not forever.

When Parker and his partner identify the remains, their investigation leads them to Trisha’s childhood home. But the deeper Parker digs into the crime, the more he realizes that the truth isn’t always simple. In fact, it’s so complicated that even Trisha and her friends don’t fully understand what really happened in those cold woods.


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MY REVIEW

Detective Parker Reed has a new partner, Geena Brassard, and they are working a cold case. Remains are found on a mountain, and they go back to a missing person case from 30 years earlier. As Parker and Geena investigate, they are led to Trisha and her friends. The remains belong to Trisha’s stepfather, Lester, and it seems he was not an upstanding citizen. Trisha and her friends were teenagers 30 years ago, and Trisha has not kept in contact with them since she left after high school.

Told with two timelines – past and present. The past timeline follows Trisha and her friends, Carlyn and Dannie. Trisha’s stepfather is abusive and she escapes her home life by hanging out with her friends. The three girls live on the same street and have been friends for years. After Lester goes missing, Trisha becomes distant from her friends and leaves town without telling them. The present timeline is when Lester’s remains are found, and Trisha and her friends are brought into the case. Trisha has returned to town to get away from her husband, and to attend the funeral of Dannie’s mother. The girls, now grown women with very different lives, reconnect.

The mystery of what happened 30 years ago is slowly revealed. Since Lester was such an unlikable guy, there are plenty of suspects as to who killed him. It’s a difficult case for the detectives to work. The more they learn about Lester, the less they like him, but it’s also their job to find who killed him. An interesting and complex case.

This is the second book in the Northampton County series. This book can be read as a standalone. My review for the first book, River Bodies can be found here.

A suspenseful mystery. I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series, and look forward to reading more by Karen Katchur. Dark, gripping, and complex.

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


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Book Review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal


BOOK INFO

Title: The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publish Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.77


BOOK BLURB

Obsession is an art.

In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.

In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.

“A page-turning psychological thriller” (Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist) that will haunt you long after you finish it, The Doll Factory is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and The Historian.


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MY REVIEW

Two sisters, Iris and Rose, paint dolls for a living. Iris dreams of being an artist, and gets the chance to leave her oppressed working conditions. Rose is jealous, and doesn’t want Iris to have a better life than her. The better opportunity is to model for a painter, and in exchange, he will teach her to paint. Meanwhile, Silas, a taxidermist, see Iris and becomes infatuated with her. She is too preoccupied with other things to notice him. That leads to her becoming trapped in his dark obsession.

The setting of 1850s Victorian London is dark and dramatic. Iris’s life is bleak, and her journey to improving her life is interesting. She has no support, and takes a big chance by attempting to be an artist. Silas, the man obsessed with Iris, slows descends into madness when Iris rejects his advances. Both make for intriguing characters.

Complex characters in a slow-burning historical thriller. Grim, creepy, and atmospheric.

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


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Weekly Wrap-Up (Aug 10 – Aug 16)

Weekly Wrap-Up


My son started kindergarten this week, so lots of excitement and changes happening in our lives right now. Our routine is now completely different, so it’ll take a little getting used to. Of course, he is handling everything better than me, and he’s loving school.


BOOKS READ

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (eARC)
The Body Lies by Jo Baker (print)
Severance by Ling Ma (audio)
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (audio)
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (audio)
The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne (audio)
Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne (audio)

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacnealThe Body Lies by Jo BakerSeverance by Ling Ma
The Husband's Secret by Liane MoriartyShe Rides Shotgun by Jordan HarperThe Naturalist by Andrew MayneLooking Glass by Andrew Mayne


CURRENTLY READING

Cold Woods by Karen Katchur (eARC)
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty (audio)

Cold Woods by Karen KatchurThree Wishes by Liane Moriarty


ADDED TO MY TBR

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards – ebook via Amazon First Reads
Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little – eARC via Edelweiss
A Good Man by Ani Katz – eARC via Edelweiss
All Adults Here by Emma Straub – eARC via Edelweiss

Here to Stay by Mark EdwardsPretty as a Picture by Elizabeth LittleA Good Man by Ani Katz


BLOG POSTS

MONDAY – Book Reviews: The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz & The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre
TUESDAY – Top Ten Tuesday: Book Characters I’d Be Friends With
WEDNESDAY – Book Review: The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan
THURSDAY – Book Review: The Body Lies by Jo Baker
FRIDAY – Weekly Wrap-Up (Aug 10 – Aug 16)


Thanks for stopping by Nightcap Books. Happy Reading!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Book Review: The Body Lies by Jo Baker

The Body Lies by Jo Baker


BOOK INFO

Title: The Body Lies
Author: Jo Baker
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.55


BOOK BLURB

A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world–or in the pages of a book–when the stakes are dangerously high.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the bustle of London and the scene of a violent assault she is desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of her new life and the demands of single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative-writing class. When a troubled student starts turning in chapters that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognizes herself as the main character in his book–and he has written her a horrific fate. Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late? At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered interrogation of the fetishization of the female body, The Body Lies gives us an essential story for our time that will have you checking the locks on your doors.


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MY REVIEW

A pregnant woman is assaulted. Three years later, she is struggling with living in London and afraid to go out alone. For a fresh start, she takes a job teaching creative writing at a university in the remote English countryside. During her course, a male student writes disturbing stories that blur the line between fiction and reality.

The unnamed narrator is a woman who struggles with life after an assault. The assault colors her view of the world, and eventually leads her to move away from London. Her husband chooses to stay in London for his work, so they attempt to maintain a long-distance relationship, spending time together on holidays and occasional weekends. She move to the countryside with her son and starts a new job that proves to be more challenging than anticipated. The new job has a higher workload than she agreed to, and no guidance. Add in the loneliness of not having her husband around and the struggles of being the mother of a toddler, the narrator is stressed and exhausted. The character development is well done, and provides an insightful look into challenges of being a woman.

The narrator’s life is stressful enough, and when a male student writes disturbing stories, she starts to feel unsafe. The suspense builds slowly in this atmospheric novel. A good read for fans of literary crime fiction. Slow-burning, dark, and unsettling.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Book Review: The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan


BOOK INFO

Title: The Murder List
Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Publisher: Forge Books
Publish Date: August 20, 2019
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.48


BOOK BLURB

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.

Problem is–she’s wrong.

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.


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MY REVIEW

Rachel is in law school and gets an internship with the district attorney’s office. This causes problems in Rachel’s marriage because her husband is a defense attorney, and his biggest enemy is the DA. During her internship, a cold case is reopened. One that Rachel has a connection with from her days working with a senator.

This novel alternates between past and present. Rachel is smart and driven. Her husband is a successful defense attorney, and they have plans for her to get a law degree so they can work together. Before getting married, Rachel worked for a senator. During her time there, a coworker was killed and the murderer was never found. During her internship with the DA’s office, that old murder case is revisited when new leads are found.

A simple story told in a complex way. The murder mystery is who killed a woman that worked for a senator. As the past meets present, old secrets are revealed. Each character seems to have an ulterior motive, making for an absorbing thriller.

A good read for fans of legal thrillers. Suspenseful, clever, and twisted.

I received a free ARC of The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Characters I’d Be Friends With

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s theme is Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With. The characters listed below are very different from one another, and would all bring different things to a friendship.

1. Nina Hill – The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
2. Millie Morris – My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
3. Fortune Redding – Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon
4. Harper McClain – The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
5. Emma Davis – The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
6. Jane Doe – Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
7. Amy Byler –The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
8. Charley Davidson – First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
9. Tricia Miles – Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
10. Jess Bishop – Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi WaxmanMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina LaurenLouisiana Longshot by Jana DeleonThe Echo Killing by Christi DaughertyThe Last Time I Lied by Riley SagerJane Doe by Victoria Helen StoneThe Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly HarmsFirst Grave on the Right by Darynda JonesMurder is Binding by Lorna BarrettForget Me Not by Kierney Scott

Book Review: The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre

The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre


BOOK INFO

Title: The Third Mrs. Durst
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publish Date: August 8, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.70


BOOK BLURB

Some people just need killing.

Marlena Altizer Durst lives in her husband’s shadow. He controls her every move—what she wears, the food she eats, and the friends she’s allowed to make. If she disobeys, there are… consequences. And he has all the power.

To outsiders, it seems that she leads a fairy-tale life. But nobody ever wonders if Cinderella was happy after she married the prince. Marlena has traded freedom and safety for luxurious imprisonment, and most days, that seems like a bad bargain. Death may be the only exit she’s allowed. Just like his first wife. And his second. Unless she flips the script.

Some people just need killing.


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MY REVIEW

Marlena left her home at sixteen to escape her tough life. She landed a modeling contract, and worked steadily until her big break. After a particularly successful job, she was offered more jobs, including an opportunity to move to Germany. That is where she was courted by Michael Durst. Now married, they lead the perfect life in public, but behind closed doors he is demanding and cruel.

Told from Marlena’s viewpoint, she recalls her young days as a model up until her present life. Marlena wants to leave her marriage, but doesn’t have many opportunities. Michael keeps constant watch on her, and he has a personal security guard with her at all times. The only person in Marlena’s life that she really trusts is Jenny, her best friend who she met when they were teens starting their modeling careers. To get away from her husband, Marlena needs help, but she’s not sure who else she can trust.

A psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. This is a plot driven story with plenty of action. It’s fun and exciting, but I had some questions in the end that took a little away from my enjoyment of the book. I’ve liked Ann Aguirre’s young adult novels, and I look forward to reading more adult thrillers by her. Dark, devious, and entertaining.

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


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Book Review: The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz


BOOK INFO

Title: The Birthday Girl
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.42


BOOK BLURB

In the thrilling, suspenseful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz, all of Ellie de Florent-Stinson’s secrets come to light in one eventful evening full of twists, turns, and surprises.

Before she became a glamorous fashion designer, Ellie de Florent-Stinson was a trailer-park teen about to turn sixteen. But a night of birthday celebration doesn’t go exactly as planned and descends into a night she’ll never be able to forget.

Now, on the cusp of her fortieth birthday, it appears Ellie has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-year-old girl; adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; lush, well-appointed homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career; and a dazzling circle of friends.

Except everything is not quite as perfect as it looks on the outside—Ellie is keeping many secrets. And hiding those skeletons has a cost, and it all comes to a head the night of her fabulous birthday party in the desert—where everyone who matters in her life shows up, invited or not. Old and new friends and frenemies, stepdaughters and business partners, ex-wives and ex-husbands congregate, and the glittering facade of Ellie’s life begins to crumble.

Beautifully paced and full of surprises, The Birthday Girl is an enthralling tale of a life lived in shadow and its unavoidable consequences.


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MY REVIEW

Ellie is turning forty, and she has a big birthday party planned. She’s invited everyone she knows and has everything planned to the last detail. Things do not go according to plan though. Something is up with her husband, her daughter has returned home unexpectedly from college, her best friend can’t make it, someone from her past has decided to drop by, and Ellie’s waiting on a last minuted business deal.

Told with alternating timelines – past (24 years ago) and present (birthday party). The past timeline is about Leo and Mish, two girls from the wrong side of town, on the night of Leo’s 16th birthday. They are best friends and excited to go out and celebrate, but things do not end happily. The present timeline is about Ellie, her lavish party, and the things happening in her life.

This is listed as a thriller, but nothing is particularly surprising or shocking. Ellie is not the most likable character, but she’s realistic. She wants perfection, and to prove that she belongs. An entertaining book for readers who enjoy drama and mild suspense.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Weekly Wrap-Up (Aug 3 – Aug 9)

Weekly Wrap-Up


My son turned 5 years old this week, and we took a quick overnight trip to Dallas to celebrate. Also, he starts school next week, so we’ve been busy getting ready for that. Lots of excitement around our house this week. With all the excitement, I didn’t have much time for reading.


BOOKS READ

The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney (eARC)


The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney


CURRENTLY READING

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz (eARC)
The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre (eARC)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (audio)

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la CruzThe Third Mrs. Durst by Ann AguirreHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


ADDED TO MY TBR

No books added to my TBR this week.


BLOG POSTS

MONDAY – Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
TUESDAY – Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Vintage Classics (Red Spines) Covers
WEDNESDAY – Book Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney
THURSDAY – no post
FRIDAY – Weekly Wrap-Up (Aug 3 – Aug 9)


Thanks for stopping by Nightcap Books. Happy Reading!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.

Book Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney


BOOK INFO

Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: J.P. Delaney
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.98


BOOK BLURB

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE


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MY REVIEW

Tim lost his wife Abbie in a suspicious accident five years ago. He is a tech genius, and creates a robot that looks, sounds, and acts like his missing wife. Abbie, the robot, awakens to a world where she knows and remembers some things, but there are large gaps in her memories. She soon wants to know more about what happened to the real Abbie, and she starts to look into her disappearance.

Told with multiple points of view that are a little confusing. Mostly told from Abbie the robot’s viewpoint, but also includes an unknown narrator. This novel uses second-person POV, which I didn’t really enjoy.

The setting is Silicon Valley and centers around a man who runs a tech company and creates an AI robot. The man was infatuated with his wife, and after losing her, he creates the perfect wife… an AI robot. Kind of creepy. The story is about Abbie the robot and what she is, how she fits into society, and what happened to the real Abbie.

A combination of science fiction and psychological thriller. There is a fair amount of tech talk, but nothing too complicated. The characters are unreliable and make for an entertaining thriller. I was disappointed in the ending and how everything came together. I can handle some unanswered questions, but this story had more plot holes than I was comfortable with. Unsettling and unique.

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


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.