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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Pitch Dark by Alex Grayson & A.M. Wilson

Pitch Dark

Pitch Dark by Alex Grayson & A.M. Wilson

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

*This book contains dark triggers.*

This book is one that will stay with me for awhile. I don’t normally go for dark romance, and I would honestly consider this book to be more of a suspense, than romance. But there is definitely dark, very graphic content. The reason this book worked for me is because it isn’t all darkness the entire time. The chapters alternate back and forth between past and present, and different viewpoints. I think that’s essential for this story because otherwise, the pitch darkness would be all-consuming.

I was reading a few other reviews about this book because I love seeing how other bloggers and readers interpret something. One thing I read a lot was that Niko needs anger management. He might, but for whatever reason, I aligned with his character and his anger. I did find the scenes where he was so angry to be a little repetitive, but at the same time, he deserved to be angry. I could see where every time he thought of Aislin, he would get riled up again.

This book has a lot of heartbreak, despair, and hopelessness in it. But at the same time, we see the characters showing their strength and perseverance. One scene that really stuck out to me was one of the darker ones. Our victim, while being tortured, has miraculously found ways to cope. Not cope with what’s happening, but just a way to get through it. It’s not pretty, it’s not sugar-coated. But in this terrible circumstance, she’s found a way to get herself through it.

The authors should be proud of the work they did on this story. It pulled at my emotions, and while I didn’t want to put it down, I also felt like I needed a break from it. This story was one of those that I would read a bit, stop and digest, and then go back in. If you enjoy dark romance, or suspense in general, I think you would enjoy this story from Alex Grayson and A.M. Wilson.

 

 

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.

 

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

watch me disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I finished this book last week. I needed a day to process it all and here I am, a week later, still obsessed with this twitchy tale. I can’t stop thinking about it, and have already debated re-reading it. It’s THAT good.

This story follows Olive and Jonathan, dealing with life about a year after Billie’s disappearance. Olive is having visions of her mother and Jonathan is trying to make sense of everything. His marriage, his wife’s past, who his wife, and her friends, might really be, and then worrying about his daughter, Olive, on top of that. One thing that really struck me with this book was how the characters, even if they did something unscrupulous, managed to keep you on their side.

You want to hate Jonathan as he starts having doubts over his presumed dead wife. You find yourself angry at him for being naive, but then you also feel heartbreaking compassion for him. Olive is trying to find herself. Others see things in her that she herself has yet to discover. You find yourself annoyed at her chasing these visions, but at the same time, you can’t blame her for running headfirst into this mystery.

This is the first book that I can say I actually popped in a post-it note. There were so many pieces that I wanted to remember and hold onto myself.

Billie’s character is exceptional. I don’t know if I mean that in a good or bad way yet. Her character is one that has stayed with me and I can say I’m still thinking about her. When we start to get a deeper look at her life, it makes you question how you feel about her. Is she cruel or was she doing the best she could? Should we love her, hate her?

Anyone who loves a good thriller will love this book. Moreover, anyone who enjoys a good mystery, while also on a search for self-discovery, would adore this novel. I really cannot say enough amazing things about this story.