Book Review: The Au Pair by Emma Rous

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Au Pair
Author: Emma Rous
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Crime Fiction
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.93

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is smiling serenely and holding just one baby.

Who is the child, and what really happened that day?


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MY REVIEW
Shortly after Seraphine and her twin brother were born, their mother killed herself. In addition to her mother’s death, the au pair also quietly left that summer. Now Seraphine and her brother are adults, and their father has recently passed away. After going through his things, Seraphine starts to question the past and what she has always been told happened the summer they were born.

Told with the alternating points of Seraphine and Laura, the au pair. Seraphine’s story is told in present day as she attempts to piece together what happened in the past. Laura’s story takes place in the past, the summer the twins were born. With both narrators, I was sometimes questioning how reliable they were, which made for an intriguing read.

A suspenseful story about secrets from the past. This novel offers plenty of twistiness. In the end, I felt all the twists led to an ending that was a bit ridiculous. A fun and entertaining read if you don’t require a realistic storyline. Family secrets and mystery.

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

Book Review: The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott

The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Three Beths
Author: Jeff Abbott
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: October 23, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.56

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
My mom would never leave me.
This has been Mariah Dunning’s motto. Her compass. Her belief. So when she glimpses her mother — who’s been missing for the past year — on the other side of a crowded food court, Mariah’s conviction becomes stronger than ever. Or is she losing her mind?

An unlikely coincidence?
When Beth Dunning disappeared without a trace, suspicion for her murder-despite the lack of a body or any physical evidence – immediately fell upon Mariah’s father. Until Mariah stumbles upon two other recent disappearances from Lakehaven. And all three women had the same name: Beth.

Or a sinister connection?
Mariah would give anything to find out what happened to her mother, and clear her father’s name. But the truth may be more devastating than she could have imagined…


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MY REVIEW
Mariah doesn’t believe her mother, Beth, would ever just leave, but Beth has been missing for a year. Mariah hasn’t given up on finding her mother, and while searching for her, she discovers there are two other missing women, also named Beth. Mariah believes the missing women must be somehow connected.

The community suspects Mariah’s father of killing her mother, despite there having been no body found. Mariah continues to stick up for her dad, but there does seem to be some suspicious behavior on the part of her father. In her search for her mother and the other Beths, Mariah’s behavior sometimes borders on unstable. She clearly cares about her parents, but she is also desperate to find her mother.

Fast-paced with a lot happening. An enjoyable read, but I did have a few issues with it. For one, Mariah isn’t exactly stealthy with her search, which is annoying. However, my biggest complaint is the ending. I’m not a fan of the villain explaining their whole evil plot. This is a twisty novel, so the explanations went on for far too long. That’s a personal pet peeve though, so the overall story lost a little something for me in the end.

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

Book Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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BOOK INFO
Title: A Simple Favor
Author: Darcey Bell
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: March 21, 2017
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.22

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
She’s your best friend.

She knows all your secrets.

That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together — just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong — Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.


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MY REVIEW
Stephanie and Emily are best friends. Emily asks a favor of Stephanie – to watch her son one afternoon and she’ll pick him up that evening… but Emily never comes back.

Stephanie is a widow and mommy blogger with a young son. Emily is a working mom with a young son. They don’t seem to have much in common, other than their sons are friends, but soon they also become friends. They also both have secrets in their past that they don’t want to get out.

Told with alternating points of view – Stephanie, Emily, and Sean. Plus, some of the story is told using posts from Stephanie’s blog. Stephanie is naive, creepy, and fake. Emily is arty, manipulative, and awful. Sean is Emily’s dopey husband.

A twisted psychological thriller. I enjoyed the writing style, but the story itself was not that great. Stephanie and Emily are both unlikable, and not in a “they’re morally corrupt, but interesting” way. Even with unlikable characters, I want to root for someone, and this book didn’t have that. There were some interesting happenings and twists. It’s just unfortunate that I never connected with any characters.

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

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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BOOK INFO
Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.28

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?


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MY REVIEW
Jessica, a makeup artist in New York City, finds out about an ethics study that pays the participants well. At first, Jessica believes it a way to get some quick, easy money. However, the researcher, Dr. Shields, takes an interest in Jessica and decides to use her as a subject in a personal project. As the project continues, Jessica becomes suspicious of Dr. Shields and her research project.

This novel is told with alternating points of view – Jessica and Dr. Shields. Jessica Farris is in her late twenties, single, and working to make ends meet. Dr. Lydia Shields is accomplished and well-respected in her field of study. Both women have secrets in their lives.

An Anonymous Girl is written by the same authors who wrote The Wife Between Us. When I find authors that I enjoy, I tend to jump at the chance to read more by them. This newest novel by the duo delivers just as well as their first book.

An intriguing domestic suspense. Full of betrayal and obsession. Captivating, clever, and suspenseful.

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

Book Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

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BOOK INFO
Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Publish Date: July 17, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.69

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.

But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.

Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger…


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MY REVIEW
Suzette and Alex’s daughter, Hanna, is a difficult child. They want to raise her in a loving environment, but it is proving more and more difficult as Hanna’s behavior becomes worse.

Told from alternating points of view – Suzette and Hanna. Suzette is not only dealing with her difficult child, but also suffers from chronic illness. This combination has created a lot of stress and unhappiness in her life. She notices how devious Hanna is, but Alex doesn’t want to believe anything bad about his little girl. Hanna is seven-years-old, but doesn’t speak and displays anti-social behavior. Hannah is super creepy and diabolical. Suzette is to the point where she can no longer handle Hanna’s behavior, and Hanna is only becoming more cruel toward her mother.

I read a lot of mixed reviews on this one, and had originally decided to pass on reading it. I ended up borrowing it from my local library. I found it to be an entertaining and quick read. Some parts were compelling, and I was curious what would happen, but other parts fell flat. Good for fans of psychological thrillers featuring creepy kids.

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

Book Review: The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic

The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Liar’s Room
Author: Simon Lelic
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.75

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A new spine-tingling thriller from the author of The New Neighbors that takes place over the course of a therapy session, in which neither patient nor therapist are who they claim to be.

Two liars. One room. No way out.

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a therapist and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But when a young man, Adam Geraghty, walks into her office, claiming he needs Susanna’s help but asking unsettling questions, she begins to fear that her secret has been discovered.

Who is Adam, really? What does he intend to do to Susanna?

And what has he done to her daughter?


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MY REVIEW
Susanna’s new patient, Adam, starts to ask her questions during his therapy session. Questions that indicate he knows the secrets in her past and what she has been running from for years. As the questions continue, Susanna’s world starts to unravel.

This story unfolds during the course of a day. When Adam arrives to Susanna’s office, she begins the session as she normally would with a new patient, but things soon change. It is clear Adam has another reason for being in Susanna’s office, and his twisted game involves Susanna and her teen daughter Emily. Susanna is a little overprotective of Emily, but they have a close relationship. However, Susanna has been keeping secrets about her past from her daughter. Those secrets have now put Emily in danger.

Susanna’s past is slowly revealed in flashbacks during her time with Adam. He questions, provokes, and threatens her into revealing the truth that led her to run from her old life. I enjoyed that the bulk of the story takes place in one setting and in one day. That provided another layer of suspense and intensity, since everything is happening over the course of hours rather than days or weeks. There are some other things going on too, but the focus is on Susanna and Adam.

I enjoyed this book, but the ending fell flat for me. It didn’t have the impact that I was hoping for in such an intense story. Maybe I’m being overly picky though. Overall, it’s a gripping read. Great for readers who enjoy dark psychological thrillers with slow reveals.

I received a free digital copy of this book via First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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BOOK INFO
Title: Watching You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: December 26, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.18

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…


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MY REVIEW
Multiple people in the same neighborhood have connections in their lives. They watch one another, think about one another, and keep secrets from one another.

This book has a lot of characters and multiple stories happening. At first, I found this confusing, but once I got the hang of who everyone was and how they were connected, it was an enjoyable read. The characters include Joey and her husband Alfie, Jack and his wife Rebecca, The Fitzwilliams, and Jenna and her mom Frances. Joey and Alfie are young newlyweds who got married after a whirlwind romance. They are living with Joey’s brother Jack and his wife Rebecca. The Fitzwilliams are neighbors, and Joey is attracted to Tom Fitzwilliam. Tom is married to Nicola and they have a son, Freddie. Tom is charming and handsome, and attracts the ladies. Freddie spends his free time spying on the neighborhood. Also in the neighborhood are Jenna and her mother Frances. Jenna is a student at the school where Tom works, and Frances is paranoid and mentally unstable.

These residents of the same neighborhood have current lives that intersect, but some of them also have connections in their past. Making things more interesting, some of the neighbors spend time watching one another, and almost everyone has secrets. When a murder takes place in the neighborhood, secrets start to be revealed.

A character driven psychological thriller. Maybe it’s because I read a lot of thrillers, but the twists didn’t really come as a surprise. It was still an intriguing read, and one I recommend. Dark, complex, and twisted.

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

Book Review: Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

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BOOK INFO
Title: Give Me Your Hand
Author: Megan Abbott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: July 17, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.41

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
You told each other everything. Then she told you too much.

Kit has risen to the top of her profession and is on the brink of achieving everything she wanted. She hasn’t let anything stop her.

But now someone else is standing in her way – Diane. Best friends at seventeen, their shared ambition made them inseparable. Until the day Diane told Kit her secret – the worst thing she’d ever done, the worst thing Kit could imagine – and it blew their friendship apart.

Kit is still the only person who knows what Diane did. And now Diane knows something about Kit that could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for.

How far would Kit go, to make the hard work, the sacrifice, worth it in the end? What wouldn’t she give up? Diane thinks Kit is just like her. Maybe she’s right. Ambition: it’s in the blood…


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MY REVIEW
Kit and Diane were best friends in high school, until Diane told Kit a disturbing secret one day. Now, 10 years later, the two women are vying for a coveted position on a special project in a research lab. Kit is not pleased to see Diane. When Diane finds out a secret about Kit, things become even more complicated.

The story of what happened between Kit and Diane unfolds with alternate timelines. The “Then” is when they were teenagers, best friends with ambitious futures in science. The “Now” is when they are working in research, and competing for a position on the same research team.

Kit and Diane share some similarities, mainly that they are both very intelligent, ambitious, and driven women. Kit has dreamed of a career in research, and has high hopes of landing a position on a groundbreaking project. Unexpectedly, Diane shows up and is hired to work in the same research lab, and along with her appearance comes memories Kit had put behind her.

The research lab has a small group of people whom Kit has been working with, and developed good working relationships. The leader of the project is an equally ambitious woman, but the other team members are all men. The newly funded project deals with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and the men seem to think Kit is a shoo-in for the project because she is a woman. When Diane shows up, the work dynamic is changed, and no one is sure who the other person chosen for the team will be… which increases tension in the lab.

This was an entertaining read, and I especially enjoyed that a good portion of the story deals with science and research. I also like the strong, but flawed, women characters. The story has some intriguing and intense parts, but also fell flat. I was expecting to be gripped by this book, but it never really captured me.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

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BOOK INFO
Title: For Better and Worse
Author: Margot Hunt
Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: December 11, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.06

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
On their first date back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke bonded over drinks, dinner and whether they could get away with murder. Now married, they’ll put the latter to the test when an unchecked danger in their community places their son in jeopardy. Working as a criminal defense attorney, Nat refuses to rely on the broken legal system to keep her family safe. She knows that if you want justice…you have to get it yourself.

Shocked to discover Nat’s taken matters into her own hands, Will has no choice but to dirty his, also. His family is in way too deep to back down now. He’s just not sure he recognizes the woman he married. Nat’s always been fiercely protective, but never this ruthless or calculating. With the police poking holes in their airtight plan, what will be the first to fall apart: their scandalous secret—or their marriage?


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MY REVIEW
Natalie and Will met in law school, and on their first date had a conversation about getting away with murder. Now it is 14 years later, and Nat and Will are married and have an eleven-year-old son. Their old conversation is revisited when Nat decides they need to protect their son, and the only way to do that is to kill the person who is abusing him.

This novel poses an interesting question. How far would you go to protect your child? Nat is a defense attorney, and knows how flawed the legal system can be. Her main concern is keeping her son safe, so she wants to take care of things herself. While Nat believes they are smart enough to get away with murder, Will is not exactly on board with her plan.

Told from two points of view – Nat and Will – though, most of the story is from Nat’s POV. Nat is smart, resourceful, and very protective of her family. Will is more inattentive and impulsive. Clearly, this results in some issues in their marriage, parenting, and, of course, murder planning.

This is an intriguing story. A great read for fans of domestic psychological thrillers. Clever, dark, and calculating.

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

Book Review: Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie

Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie

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BOOK INFO
Title: Rapid Falls
Author: Amber Cowie
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: December 1, 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.88

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
It’s been twenty years since Cara’s boyfriend died in a horrible accident and her sister, Anna, went to prison. The tragedy has become a local legend, but Cara has moved past her grief to have a successful career and a happy family. Pity about Anna. Recently released from incarceration, she’s struggling with addiction, guilt, and shame — a shattered life. Cara’s forgiveness seems to be the only thing that helps her pick up the pieces.

But as Anna pulls herself together, her memories of that night on the bridge start to come into focus. And few of them match her sister’s.

As past secrets unfold and nothing is what it seems anymore, Anna desperately searches for the truth. But what if Cara doesn’t want her to find it?


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MY REVIEW
Twenty years ago, a tragic accident killed Cara’s boyfriend. Cara’s sister Anna was driving. They were teenagers at the time, and Cara and Anna’s lives went in very different directions following the accident. Anna has suffered with guilt and shame for years, and uses alcohol and drugs to ease her pain. Cara moved on, and now has a husband, child, and a successful career. When Anna starts to ask questions about the night of the accident, Cara takes measures to make sure her sister doesn’t remember what happened.

The story is told from Anna’s point of view, and includes the present day story plus flashbacks to when they were teenagers. I absolutely loathed Anna. She is manipulative and self-serving. Cara is harder to explain. She’s self-destructive, which I don’t like, but she also has struggled with guilt for years, so I felt for her. The sisters have a complicated relationship, where they don’t necessarily like one another, but they rely on each other.

A twisted psychological thriller. Dark, dramatic, and complex.

This was my pick for Amazon’s First Reads in November 2018.