The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel Review

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Synopsis: After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My Thoughts: It’s been 2 days since I finished this book and I still can’t get it off my mind. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more I’m disturbed by the content of this book. I would call this a “trainwreck” book…as I was reading it, I wanted to stop because of the twisted and disturbing nature of the content but for some reason I couldn’t look away.

This is not a feel good book, it was the opposite for me. I feel disgusted and frustrated and disturbed after reading it. With all that being said, I must say that this book falls into the unputdownable category for me. I devoured it in a few sittings, I needed to know what happened to Allegra and I needed to know how things would end. The writing style was very fluid, the characters were developed very well, and the book is full of several unexpected twists and turns. I think the fact that I have such an adverse reaction to this book is a testament to what a good writer Amy Engel is.

I don’t think this was the book for me…those familiar with me probably know that I am pretty conservative. This book had way too much vulgarity and graphic sexual content in it for my taste. I understand why it was there but I don’t feel that the author needed to go into as much detail as she did at times.

My Rating: This is one of the most difficult books for me to rate as I found it extremely compelling and well written but I can’t say that I liked it. Because of the unputdownable factor I rated it 4 /5 stars.

4 stars

I can’t in good conscience recommend this book to anyone as I really didn’t like the content but I will say that this is a book with a lot of adult content. If you like dark, disturbing, taboo subjects, you might want to try it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Occupied by Craig Parshall Review

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Synopsis: As a youth, Trevor Black unleashed spiritual forces he couldn’t comprehend. Years later, Trevor is a high-flying criminal defense lawyer in New York City, with a six-figure Aston Martin and a trophy wife. But in an extraordinary turn of events, he receives a burdensome gift: the ability to perceive the invisible. And the dark forces he now sees are all gunning for him.

When one of Trevor’s hometown friends is murdered, the MO is eerily similar to a shocking trail of murders that have already crossed the lawyer’s path. So Trevor must return home to find the killer. . . and face not only his own personal demons, but supernatural ones as well.

My Thoughts: This book provides a great picture of spiritual warfare, which is something that I believe is a very real and powerful thing. In it you follow Trevor, who has the ability to see dark forces (which he calls the horribles) as well as the light forces that battle against them. I have often wondered what it would be like if the veil was lifted and we were able to see the invisible forces…I’ve always imagined that it would be terrifying to see the hidden world around us. This book confirmed my assumptions that seeing this world would be very scary.

This story took me a good 100 pages to get interested.I felt that it dragged a bit at first and the pacing was a bit disjointed. It also took me a while to get used to the writing style. There were a lot of characters and sometimes I had a bit of trouble keeping track of who was who.

I loved the concept of the story and found myself thinking about it often after reading it. I also liked Joel’s character. He became a born again Christian in the book and his development was great throughout the book. I also liked the prevalence of Christianity and theology throughout the story. For this type of story, it was very necessary to add the Biblical truths attached to spiritual warfare, which the author did well.

There were several twists and turns that I didn’t expect and the ending was done very well. Overall, this was a great story that I enjoyed very much. I would have given it 5 stars had it not been for the slow start and the uneven pacing.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

My Thoughts: Wow!!! This book blew my mind! A fun adventure from the first page to the last, my jaw dropped several times while reading this. There were many unexpected moments that I never saw coming. This is the kind of story you want to go into blindly because the revelations make it amazing.

This is the epitome of a thought provoking book…I can’t stop thinking of the plot and all of the things that are presented in the story.

The protagonist, Jason, is very likable and I was rooting for him throughout the story. His wife Daniela was a bit less well known…you only saw her through Jason’s eyes but it was clear how much he adored her.

I appreciated that the author didn’t need to use gore or vulgarity to make the story impactful.

This story crosses several genres…science fiction, suspense, mystery, thriller, romance, and even has some horror aspects. I truly believe that this is the kind of book that would appeal to a large audience of readers.

This book was amazing and I recommend it to everyone. It will live on my favorites list.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

My Thoughts: At first I was a bit wary of this book because of the writing style but after about 20 pages, I was hooked. This book kept me guessing until the very end.

Nora, the main character, is definitely an interesting person. Because she is telling the story, you never really know if she’s reliable or not. The author is very good at showing her emotional decline after he sister’s murder. Nora reminded me a lot of Libby Day from Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places…damaged and unlikable.

There are many twists and turns, which I love, and most were unpredictable.

The book is fairly short at 219 pages but it is very dense…there were no moments when I felt like it dragged. I would much rather read a shorter book that packs a big punch than a long book that drags on and on.

I would definitely recommend this one to all of the thriller lovers. It was a great story!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Penguin Publishing company in exchange for an honest review.

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets.  She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself.  Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.

What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name.  They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago.  They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.  They don’t know that she’s now in witness protection, regretting ever making a deal with the Feds, and missing her children with a heartache so strong it makes her ill.

Then, she learns that her daughter has gone missing, possibly kidnapped.  Determined to find out what happened, Freedom slips free of her handlers, gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  As she ventures out on her own, no longer protected by the government, her troubled past comes roaring back at her: her husband’s vengeful, sadistic family; her brief, terrifying stint in prison; and the family she chose to adopt her kids who are keeping dangerous secrets.

My Thoughts: I had no interest in reading this book when I first saw the cover, but I read the synopsis and thought I’d take a chance (I’m glad that I did). This story follows Freedom, who is in the witness protection program and has a slew of issues. Freedom was the kind of character who I really disliked in the beginning of the story but as it progressed and I began to understand her, she grew on me.

The story has many facets and subplots that all merge together. It explores a religious cult which was extremely interesting and chilling. As a reader I went through a range of emotions, from anger to frustration, to fear, and sadness.

The story touches on religion, which often frustrates me in secular fiction, but the author handled it very well and I was pleased with the way things were presented.

Overall, this was a fast paced, action packed story that was enjoyable to read.

My Rating: 4 stars

 

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange of an honest review.

Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley Review

pgPlot According to Goodreads: When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back–a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

My Thoughts: WOW! This book is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. There is a lot I want to tell you about this book but it’s best to find things out on your own. I went into this book expecting a typical kidnapping story and got something completely different, but in a good way. The main character, Angie, is very likable, I wanted to reach through the book and give her a hug several times while reading. The plot was fascinating, focusing on a controversial and confusing subject, but explained in a way that made a lot of sense and provided a lot of insight. It eluded to some of the grittier parts of Angie’s captivity, but the author only showcases a tiny glimpse into the horrors of her experience, and allows the reader to imagine the rest. The focus of the story is more on how Angie copes with who she is after her ordeal, rather than on the 3 years she was missing.  On the negative side, there were a few blaring plot holes, but they didn’t take away from the story and were necessary to make the story more gripping, in my opinion.

I would classify this book as one of my favorite books of 2015. It is definitely worth a read if you are a fan of thrillers and psychological stories.

My rating: 5/5  stars

Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon Review

dmGenre: Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Plot According to Goodreads: Dismantlement = Freedom
Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—”To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart”—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz’s death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour’s drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn’t ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.

Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die—or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?

My Thoughts: This book has a complicated plot. The story keeps you guessing until the end, which I appreciate in books but when I got to the end of this one, I felt a sense of deja vu. Between the ages of 13-16 I was obsessed with Fear Street books…R.L. Stine was by far my favorite author and I couldn’t get enough of his creepy stories. This book felt like a grown up version of a Fear Street book. There are a lot of twists and turns and just when you think you have it all figured out, the author turns it around for one last shocking moment.

I loved the first 1/3 of the book, the plot was fresh and different and the author only revealed a little bit of the mystery, enough to keep the pages turning. Things began to get slow and dragged a bit somewhere in the middle and my interest started to wane. Suz, the character the book focuses on, had the kind of personality that rubs me the wrong way…very overbearing and controlling…I tired of her very quickly.

It’s possible that this book had too many twists and turns (another reason it felt like a Fear Street book to me). I feel like it could have benefited from more editing…the story felt a bit too long and I was just glad to have finished it. Overall, a decent book but certainly not my favorite.

My Rating: 3/5 stars.