Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

BringMeBack

Buy it here: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

You know, as a blogger, I tend to have a lot of books floating around at any given time. Months ago, I snagged another book by this author, and I just haven’t gotten around to it (#bookwormproblems). But then I got a chance to read “Bring Me Back” and I was so excited since I’ve been eager to read this author.

Oh.My.God. My mind was absolutely blown.

I finished several days ago and I’m still thinking about the story and the crazy thing is that once I knew the conclusion, it made me want to re-read the book because it has made me see everything differently. That is how you know you’ve got an amazing thriller in your hands.

Finn and Layla were in love. Until things fell apart. Layla goes missing and Finn eventually moves on. Twelve years later, Finn is engaged to Ellen, Layla’s sister. But suddenly Finn starts getting clues that Layla hasn’t disappeared like everyone thought.

One of the best aspects of this story is that you truly have no idea who is a good or bad person. You think you’ve totally figured it out and then you realize you were wrong. Or were you? It was so much fun trying to guess at where this story would lead. None of the characters are overly likable, but you also don’t dislike them. For me, that helped this story go to the next level. Because I was unsure of the characters, I was always slightly suspicious. Then I would think I was figuring it out, until I wasn’t.

Then when I got to the end, it was so insane. I always feel like you get the blurb saying “you won’t believe the ending”. But with this book, it’s true.

If you love thrillers, or are looking for a book that will be different than anything else you’ve read, you need to read “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris.

 

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Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

SocialCreature

Buy it here: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. 

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Even now that I’ve finished it, I truly can’t decide what I think about it. But the book itself has stayed with me and I’ve thought about it more than a few times.

Louise Wilson is just a girl trying to make it in New York City. Insecure and unsure of herself, she works several jobs to get by. One, as an SAT tutor, and this is how she meets Lavinia. Louise is easy to forget. You could pass her in a crowd and not think anything of it. But Lavinia, an actress/student/writer/wealthy kid stands out. And once Lavinia pulls you into her world, it’s hard to let go of that lifestyle. This is exactly what happens to Louise.

The way this story is told was enjoyable for me. You feel like the author is actually telling you the story, and that adds an extra layer of depth. It kept me on edge because initially, we aren’t sure how nefarious this story might turn. You really don’t know who is bad and who is good. Both Louise and Lavinia are not the most lovable characters. It’s a delicate push and pull between them and the author maintains a perfect balance so the story always has just the right amount of tension.

This story was fascinating. I would stop reading and I found myself sitting and thinking about Louise and Lavinia and what they would do next. What weird person Louise would meet and how she would handle her changing life. What would Lavinia think as Louise starts to branch out on her own with Lavinia’s friends? I would absolutely recommend this book. It was easy to read, had the perfect elements to keep me on edge (as I think any good thriller should do), and the ending left me speechless.

 

 

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

TheFavoriteSister

Buy it here: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

From Jessica Knoll—author of Luckiest Girl Alive, the instant New York Times bestseller and the bestselling debut novel of 2015—comes a blisteringly paced thriller starring two sisters who join the cast of a reality TV series. One won’t make it out alive. So…who did it?

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

 

I know that when you read the synopsis of this book, you instantly think of “Real Housewives” or any of those other reality t.v. shows where the women will do anything to get what they want. And while this book is similar, it goes so much deeper than any reality show could ever attempt to go.

The beginning of this book is a little hard to get into. The characters are introduced so quickly, and its slightly hard to keep track with everyone. Plus, we’re seeing distorted reality since everyone is portrayed, or trying to be portrayed, in a certain light. As I read, I almost felt like I was watching the show, and trying to figure out what was true and what was not. No different than a viewer at home.

An aspect that this book touches on, and I’ve always thought this was true, was the manipulation that goes into reality television. When you think of a camera following someone nonstop, and then you realize you get maybe a 30-60 minute show, how much is tossed on the editing room floor? The public feels like they know the characters, when the truth can be so much darker than anyone could guess.

The show, “The Goal Diggers” follows successful business women. What’s interesting is that this show wants to inspire women to not follow the norms (marriage, kids, etc), and be successful for their own achievements. I didn’t necessarily mind that message but the characters do get a little preachy from time to time, and I admit it was difficult to like or root for any one particular person. I’d go from finding them amusing for how they could play the game to hypocritical to just hating them. Not much unlike when I watch reality television.

If you enjoy shows like “The Real Housewives”, “Pretty Little Liars”, or even “Mean Girls”, you would definitely enjoy this book. The drama is there, the twists keep you pulled in and the murder takes it over the top.

 

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen

TheWifeBetweenUs

Buy it here: The Wife Between Us

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

This book is eerie. I struggled to come up with the right word. But eerie seems the best way to describe this tale of new and old lives interconnecting.

Vanessa and Richard were once married; living their happily ever after in a nice home, surrounded by their wealthy friends and fancy things. But then, Richard meets “the replacement” and everything changes for Vanessa.

Vanessa’s character broke my heart. I would feel like I hated her, then could sort of understand her, and I’d move onto annoyance with her behavior and then I’d go back to heartbreak. The authors captured her despair, abandonment, and chaos exquisitely.

Nellie is the soon-to-be new wife to Richard. Nellie is cookie-cutter. She’s this sweet young woman, who teaches preschool, waitresses at night, and somehow manages to find “the one” in Richard. He never wants to talk about his ex and Nellie never pries. She has her own issues that she isn’t sharing either.

One thing about this story is that it moves slowly. This isn’t a fast-paced action thriller. It  sort of carries on, as if it’s on a nice Sunday stroll.  It just is. I think that fact is what lulls the reader into comfort. You think you’re reading about these two women, and their lives. The thrill in this story is how normal it seems. Men and women get married and divorced all the time. Relationships break apart. It could happen to anyone.

Another thing that I didn’t like initially but started to appreciate the more I thought on it is this book has several twists and turns. I figured out one but because this story is so dynamic, figuring out one of the twists didn’t ruin the whole story. You can understand one portion of the puzzle but you still don’t see everything.

This book is reminiscent of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train”. If you enjoyed either of those stories, you will enjoy this one. I’ve heard a lot of buzz that this book is also being turned into a movie, and I’m not surprised to hear that at all. This book is dynamic, terrifying, and downright eerie. Readers will not be disappointed.

 

Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh

HerLastGoodbye

Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s Morgan Dane series continues as the fearless attorney and her partner, investigator Lance Kruger, take on a disturbing disappearance…

Young mother Chelsea Clark leaves the house for a girls’ night out…and vanishes. Her family knows she would never voluntarily leave her two small children. Her desperate husband—also the prime suspect—hires Morgan to find his wife and prove his innocence.

As a single mother, Morgan sympathizes with Chelsea’s family and is determined to find her. She teams up with private investigator Lance Kruger. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier their investigation gets. When Morgan is stalked by a violent predator, everything—and everyone—she holds dear is in grave danger.

Now, Morgan must track down a deranged criminal to protect her own family…but she won’t need to leave home to find him. She’s his next target.

This is my first book from Melinda Leigh but it won’t be my last, that’s for sure. I started reading this book and was hooked instantly.

This author made the story flow extremely well. Part of the reason I couldn’t put it down was because every chapter gave me another little breadcrumb. Whether it’s the budding romantic relationship between Morgan and Lance, or the actual mystery of what happened to Chelsea Clark, this author kept me wanting more throughout the story. As we see the story from different viewpoints, you are pulled in more and more to this tangled web.

One theme that runs throughout the story is the character’s last goodbye. I appreciated this because I feel like this might be one of the few times where the overall theme of the story coincided with the title. When we see Chelsea’s character, she’s remembering her last goodbye to her husband and family. When we see Morgan with her family, she’s reminded of the frailty of life. The same goes for her partner, Lance Kruger, who’s doing his job, caring for his mother, and trying to pursue a relationship with Morgan.

The mystery in this story is intense and I was left wondering what was really the truth throughout the story. For me, that makes the story a truly incredible mystery. When we finally find out what really happened, it’s really surprising because you never see it coming.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It was captivating, mysterious, and one of those books that I just could not bring myself to put down.

 

 

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

GirlInSnow

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

This is easily one of the most interesting, and also somewhat disturbing, books I’ve read in a long time. The start of our story is raw and honest, and it chilled me immediately.

This story follows Cameron, the boy who loved Lucinda too much; Jade, the girl who wanted her life; and Russ, an officer assigned to investigate the murder. The first thing I will say is that this author impressed me with how she took what is considered a thriller, and flipped it all around. While Lucinda’s murder is the glue binding everything together, you almost start to forget about her at points. You get so engrossed with the characters, what’s happening, their secrets, their thoughts. It was a unique take on the idea of a thriller and I enjoyed that.

I read this book in about six hours. I only put it down the first night to sleep and immediately started in again the next day. The way this story is laid out worked well. Each chapter focuses on one particular character and even with a large cast of characters, it was easy to follow, and not lose anyone in the story.

Cameron’s character swung from scary to timid. You weren’t sure if you wanted to help him or hide from him. Jade…I felt for her character. As we learn more about her as the story continues on, you feel your heart break for this teenage girl who is trying to figure things out while also protecting herself. Russ’s character is unique, and yet almost what you’d expect at the same time. He’s lost. Even though he’s a police officer and middle-age, he’s lost. All of our characters are. I think that’s what makes this story captivating; everyone is lost in their own way.

If you’re looking for a thriller that brings a fresh perspective to what we normally think of as a thriller, this is the book for you. The story is painful, visceral, and almost feels a little too raw in parts. But those are the aspects that I enjoyed the most. The characters are extremely flawed, but also not unlike most of us. A fantastic debut for the author.

 

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

EveryLastLie

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

I’ve been on a bit of a psychological thriller kick lately. It’s the genre I naturally gravitate towards and this book honestly reminded me why I love the genre so much. This is a book that, although I’ve received an advanced copy, I will be buying a copy for my shelf. This is a book that every one who aspires to write should read.

Mary Kubica pulled me in immediately. Not with the mystery (which is what usually plagues me for hours on end), but with the emotion in this story. The way that I could physically see Clara and Nick, the stress, the pain, the heartbreak. Everything was so vivid; the home, the heat, the stress, the terror. You could physically feel it along with the characters. You could read, and then close your eyes for a moment and see these characters and just want to help them.

One aspect that stood out to me was the insomnia. Nick experiences it in his final months and Clara experiences it after his death. This author shows this to reader so incredibly well. Insomnia for days on end can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Everything becomes fuzzy and enhanced at the same time. You lose track of things because you’re trying to catch a minute of rest and it just never comes.

Nick was a character that I thought I would hate. But as you see him throughout the story and his love for Clara was so unending, it felt like my heart was ripping apart. Sometimes, you can love someone too much. So much that you never want them to be unhappy or stressed for even a moment.

Clara is someone you want to run and help. I knew she wasn’t real, but in my heart, I kept wanting to find her and help her. The frustration and shame she felt was something I could relate to. You’re in a mess, you don’t really know the magnitude of the mess, and you’re just wading through the muck, trying to deal with it. But you can’t because you don’t know how to, and you don’t even know what exactly is happening.

This book is a masterpiece from beginning to end. I truly can’t recommend it enough.