Book Review: Under Lying by Janelle Harris

Under Lying by Janelle Harris


BOOK INFO

Title: Under Lying
Author: Janelle Harris
Publisher: Lake Union
Publish Date: November 1, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.86


BOOK BLURB

In this gripping novel of suspense, the disappearance of a couple’s baby daughter leaves everyone a suspect.

Susan has everything she ever wanted. A loving husband, an angelic daughter and the cottage of her dreams in County Cork. Her picture-perfect life seems too good to be true. And it is.

At a housewarming party with their new neighbours, her daughter Amelia goes missing. As friends become suspects, Susan’s life spirals out of control. And when Amelia’s yellow cardigan is dredged from the lake, every parent’s worst nightmare suddenly seems horribly real.

In the aftermath of Amelia’s disappearance Susan and her husband Paul are not themselves. Someone is hiding something. What if Susan and Paul’s entire relationship was built on lies stretching back years?

Some secrets may be best left buried in the past, but uncovering the truth could be the only way to find Amelia – before it’s too late.



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MY REVIEW

Susan and Paul are hosting a party when their young daughter goes missing. After searching the area and not finding the girl, everyone starts to assume the worst. In the days following the disappearance, Susan and Paul are both acting differently… and they are both keeping secrets.

Told from Susan’s point of view using alternate timelines (now and then). Susan is not exactly who she seems to be, and her story is slowly revealed as the novel progresses. Susan is not a likable character. She is obsessed, vengeful, and deranged. That combination makes for an entertaining read.

An intriguing thriller with some twists and turns along the way. Good for fans of revenge plots. Suspenseful, crazy, and shocking.


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Book Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell


BOOK INFO

Title: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: November 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.18


BOOK BLURB

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.



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MY REVIEW

After turning 25 years old, Libby inherits a valuable property and learns who her biological parents were. Libby was unaware of her biological family, but there are a couple of people who have been waiting for her to discover where she came from.

Told using multiple points of view (Libby, Lucy, and Henry) and alternating timelines. Libby and Lucy’s stories are present day, while Henry’s story takes place in the early to mid-1990s. At first, I found the alternating POVs to be confusing, but I soon got into the flow. The stories do all meet up, and it’s not all that surprising how people and events are connected.

A domestic suspense with some crazy people and plenty of drama. Dark, chaotic, and twisted.

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: Lock Me In by Kate Simants

Lock Me In by Kate Simants


BOOK INFO

Title: Lock Me In
Author: Kate Simants
Publisher: Killer Reads
Publish Date: October 4, 2019
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.04


BOOK BLURB

A debut psychological thriller from a major new talent

Whatever you do, don’t open the door…

By day, Ellie Power has a normal life. She has a stable home, a loving boyfriend, a future.

But at night, she suffers from a sleep disorder. She becomes angry, unpredictable, violent. Her mother locks her in her bedroom every night, to keep them both safe.

Then one morning, Ellie wakes up, horrified to find the lock on her bedroom door smashed from the inside. She is covered in injuries, unable to remember anything about the night before.

And her boyfriend Matt is nowhere to be found…



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MY REVIEW

Ellie suffers from a sleep disorder. She can become unpredictable and violent, so she needs to be locked in her bedroom at night. One morning, she awakens to discover her bedroom door smashed, injuries on her body, and no memory of what happened during the night. Then she learns her boyfriend is missing. As Ellie questions what happened, she delves into her past to learn more about her condition.

Told with alternating points of view – Ellie and Detective Ben Mae. Detective Mae is assigned the missing persons case of Ellie’s boyfriend. Ellie and Detective Mae have a history though. He worked the case of her missing best friend a couple years prior. That’s right, a similar situation happened previously, making Ellie an obvious suspect. She doesn’t remember what happens on those nights though, and, so far, there is not real evidence linking her to a crime.

An intriguing psychological thriller. Ellie lives with her mother, and they keep very low profiles. As the investigation of Ellie’s boyfriend progresses, secrets from Ellie’s past are revealed. Slow-burning, engrossing, and twisty.

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: Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak


BOOK INFO

Title: Necessary People
Author: Anna Pitoniak
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: May 21, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.74


BOOK BLURB

One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. But they can’t both win.

Stella and Violet are best friends, and from the moment they met in college, they knew their roles. Beautiful, privileged, and reckless Stella lives in the spotlight. Hardworking, laser-focused Violet stays behind the scenes, always ready to clean up the mess that Stella inevitably leaves in her wake.
After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. In this fast-paced world, Violet thrives, and her ambitions grow — but everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet’s new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce — and taking all the credit.

Stella might be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’ll go to get what she wants — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.



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MY REVIEW

Stella and Violet have been friends since college. They seem like opposites, but they balance one another out. Stella is privileged and irresponsible. Violet is hardworking and serious. After graduating, Stella travels and Violet starts an internship at a cable news station in New York. When Stella returns to New York, Violet’s advancements are overshadowed and threatened when Stella is hired at the same station. Violet has always been there for Stella, but Violet isn’t giving up on her dreams.

Told from Violet’s point of view. She’s driven and hardworking, but not always likable. Both women are manipulative with one another and others in their lives. While they both have traits that are unlikable, they also both have moments to sympathize with. This is one of those novels where unlikable characters really works. Even though I wasn’t loving either woman, I was curious as to how their relationship would play out.

An intriguing thriller about a toxic friendship. Well developed characters that make this a highly enjoyable read. Dark, complex, and compelling.


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 Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke


BOOK INFO

Title: The Two Lila Bennetts
Author: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.9


BOOK BLURB

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.



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MY REVIEW

Lila Bennett has made some bad choices. She has now reached a decision that splits her life in two. In one life, she is taken hostage by someone who knows everything about her. In the other life, someone is after her, and exposes her secrets as she escapes capture.

Lila is a criminal defense attorney. She’s made plenty of enemies, so narrowing down who is after her proves challenging. She has made choices that impact her personal and professional lives. As those choices are revealed, her life is forever changed. Lila is not exactly likable. She’s lied to the people in her life for many years. She always has an excuse, but she knows that she’s done the wrong thing. When her life splits, she finally faces those choices and has to face the ones she has hurt.

An intriguing thriller about choices affecting our path in life, and having to face the consequences. Fast-paced, complex, and suspenseful.


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: Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

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 INFO
Title: Here to Stay
Author: Mark Edwards
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: September 1, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.99

BOOK BLURB
via Amazon:
A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about…

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.


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MY REVIEW
Elliot has a comfortable life with a rewarding career and a beautiful home he remodeled. The only thing missing is a family. When he meets Gemma, she seems perfect for him, and they have a brief courtship before marrying. Soon after getting married, Gemma’s family (mother, father, and sister) need somewhere to stay. Elliot is happy to welcome them into his home for a couple of weeks, but the time keeps passing and his in-laws aren’t leaving. In fact, they’re taking over his home and starting to destroy other areas of his life too.

Elliot is a decent man who works hard and enjoys his quiet life. He wants love though, and is happy when he meets Gemma. Then his in-laws move in. When his in-laws refuse to leave, Elliot is pushed beyond the breaking point. It’s a difficult time for him and Gemma. In some ways it brings them closer and in other ways pushes them apart.

While I enjoyed the story, I did feel it was a little too slowly drawn out. The in-laws are smart though, and stay within the law as they disrupt Elliot’s life. Elliot tries to remain calm, but there is only so much that a man can handle.

An intriguing story involving the in-laws from Hell. Good for readers who enjoy family drama in domestic thrillers. Crazy, suspenseful, and entertaining.

This was my Amazon First Reads pick for August 2019.


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 Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

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 INFO
Title: The Woman in the Park
Author: Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Publish Date: August 26, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.20

BOOK BLURB
via Amazon:
When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman’s disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police.

With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence.

A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies — The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.


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MY REVIEW
Sarah is attracted to a handsome man she met in the park. This new man provides a way for Sarah to escape her unhappiness at home. When a woman Sarah recognizes from the park goes missing, Sarah comes under suspicion in the her disappearance. Sarah’s home life and secret life collide. Nothing is as it seems, and Sarah’s not sure who she can trust.

A suspenseful psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. Sarah has discontent in her life, but she’s trying to manage things with therapy. As the story progresses, it’s hard to know if everything is based in reality. An entertaining trip down the rabbit hole of Sarah’s life.

A twisty debut novel. Good for readers who enjoy domestic thrillers with unreliable narrators. Dark, clever, and captivating.

I received a free advance digital copy 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.

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 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.