REVIEW: THE LIES WE TOLD, BY CAMILLA WAY

 

A daughter
Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, the apparent delight in hurting others…Sometimes Beth is scared of her and what she could be capable of.

A son
Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him.

A life built on lies
As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can Clara find him before it’s too late?

My Thoughts: In the beginning pages of The Lies We Told, we are introduced to two families: Doug, Beth, and their daughter Hannah, living in Cambridgeshire, in 1986; and Luke and Clara, young adults living in London in 2017. Luke’s parents, Oliver and Rose Lawson, have become like a second family to Clara.

Our story takes us back and forth, and we watch Hannah’s life grow more troubling with each year that passes. Her horrific and sociopathic behavior gets more dangerous with time. The behavior, and a dark secret dating back to Hannah’s infancy, keeps this family on tenterhooks.

Meanwhile, in contemporary London, Clara’s world is upended when Luke goes missing. Before he was “taken,” there were e-mails and strange events. Luke, obviously, had a stalker.

Seeing the connections slowly come together for these characters kept me glued to the book. I had figured out that there were very dark links between them all, but just how deep the ties went and how twisted they were would not be revealed until close to the end.

Like dropping bread crumbs, some of the characters lead us along their pathways, while the others try to follow, hoping to learn more about each of them: their lives, their lies, and their secrets. How will each of the characters put everything together? Will they find Luke? What will happen between them all when the sordid secrets are finally out in the open?

Hannah was a frightening character, but Luke was no saint. His flaws contributed to his vulnerability, and his family’s secrets and lies made him the perfect target. I kept turning pages rapidly as the layered and captivating story reached its denouement. 5 stars.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.
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REVIEW: LIES, BY T. M. LOGAN

 

Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

Now, Joe’s life is unraveling. His wife has lied to him. Her deception has put their entire family in jeopardy. The man she met at the hotel has vanished. And as the police investigate his disappearance, suspicion falls on Joe.

Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives—someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

What if your whole life was based on LIES?

My Thoughts: I was immediately hooked on Lies, as the pages quickly turned and more and more duplicity was revealed.

Joe’s first person narrative carried us along, our feelings heightened with each lie revealed, and as we followed each step he took, we were unsure of who the enemies would turn out to be, and whose life would be endangered next.

Joe and Mel’s son William, a sweet four-year-old who was precocious and spoke up with his thoughts and needs, was such a treat, but his vulnerability intensified my hope that Joe would find the answers he sought.

From the beginning, I distrusted Mel. Initially, she seemed loving, but as she began to share the lies, a bit at a time, the tidbits handed out in pieces, it was easy to see that she had a lot more hidden. Her façade was intact, though, making it hard to penetrate it in the quest for full disclosure.

What is the end game for the liars? Is Beth’s husband Ben the evil perpetrator, or is there more to the story? Why are the police so quickly targeting Joe? Who has set up the perfect trap, and why?

Even though I didn’t believe the stories Mel was telling, I wasn’t prepared for what came out in the stunning conclusion. Intense and horrifying, I couldn’t breathe while the events played out.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: BONFIRE, BY KRYSTEN RITTER

 

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game”—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

 

My Thoughts: Bonfire was a captivating story of environmental poisoning; mean girls who played a horrible Game; and how the past never stays in your rear view mirror.

Abby Williams is an environmental lawyer revisiting her past when her team goes to Barrens, Indiana, to investigate Optimal, a company that seems to control everything about the town.

At first it seemed as though the poisoning in the water was the worst that could be uncovered, but what the company had done to hide its darker secrets gradually unfolded, as Abby kept digging, even when some members of her team had wrapped up their quest.

I enjoyed Abby’s shifting memories of the past, and how their darkest parts slowly came to her in the end, and how even some of the people she thought she could trust turned out to be the most evil. The scent of bonfires on the horizon seemed to hover just on the edges of her mind whenever a new memory would surface. The past and present collide during one dark night when Abby is facing horrific danger that she didn’t see coming. Engaging and slowly revealing how the past informs the present, I give this one 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: UNDER THE INFLUENCE, BY JOYCE MAYNARD

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In the aftermath of her divorce, Helen found that a glass or two of wine each night after her son, Oliver, had gone to bed, could ease some of the pain. Soon she drank more and more to blur the edges and fill the empty spaces. What was the harm? He was asleep.

When an emergency arose one night, Helen made the decision to drive her son to the hospital, a choice that would alter her life forever. Pulled over and arrested for DUI, her bad times had just begun. Her ex-husband filed for full custody of five-year-old Oliver, and Helen’s life was truly empty at that point, with restricted visitation with her son.

In these dark and vulnerable moments of her life, Helen met up with a seductive wealthy couple, Swift and Ava Havilland, who charmed and literally swept her up into their inner circle, granting favors, asking some from her in return, and before she knew it, Helen was under their spell.

When she introduced her son to the inner circle of the Havillands during one of her visits, he, too, was pulled into the magical vortex these “friends” offered. Now their life seemed golden. Until it wasn’t.

Under the Influence is one of those stories that drew this reader in with its realistic situations and characters, reminding us that alcohol and drugs are not the only addictive elements in life, but people who are able to con and influence those around them can be just as dangerous. What happened to Helen would have lasting consequences, and when a life-threatening situation arose, she realized how quickly those charming people could dismiss and turn on her.

Sometimes in life, and in novels, there is no punishment for the truly dangerous people who can do grievous harm…but just when I thought there would be no consequences, something happened to bring about a little satisfaction to this reader. 5 stars.

REVIEW: INVISIBLE, BY CARLA BUCKLEY

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While Dana Carlson finished setting up the building for its implosion, her mind was focused totally on the job. She felt that surge of control…something she needs in her life. In the demolition business, one must be in control.

So when the calls start coming from “private caller,” she ignores them. Until finally, when the job is done, she picks up. And the voice of her teenage niece Peyton sweeps her back in time, sixteen years before, to a time and place she escaped. Running from her past and her secrets.

But Peyton is telling Dana that her sister Julie is very sick and needs a kidney transplant. So, almost on auto pilot, Dana agrees to go back to Black Bear, Minnesota. But will she be able to face what is there?

Back in Black Bear, she is stunned by what she finds. She is too late, and Julie is dead. And what Dana soon discovers is that many people in Black Bear are suddenly dying of kidney disease, in numbers too large to be random. What is happening?

As she begins to investigate, she is confronted by the rage of the community. By those who see her as an intruder…a threat to their livelihood. Is the large plant in town causing the problems?

What will Dana uncover, and who will be on her side? Will anyone help her or will everyone stand in her way? And which of Dana’s secrets will come to light?

Narrated alternately by Dana and Peyton, we come to see beneath their surfaces as the story unfolds, and I came to care deeply for each of them.

Another unputdownable book from Carla Buckley, Invisible: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle) is a reminder of what is hidden beneath the surface: from nano particles to deeply held secrets. And how many will fight desperately to keep things hidden. Five stars.

AN INTUITIVE & SERENDIPITOUS JOURNEY — A REVIEW

Tory Lake’s lovely Vermont home brings her much joy and serenity. And as a therapist, she doesn’t even have to leave her house; her home office, with a beautiful view, is the perfect place to see her clients.

But then something happens to destroy the peace and serenity in Tory’s world, and sends her life spinning out of control. A client’s crime and her subsequent threats against Tory’s son Jack lead to a tragic plunge into the lake.

Because the client is a Sheriff’s detective, Tory knew that reporting her wasn’t an option. Who would the authorities believe, Tory or one of their own?

When the car plunged into that lake, however, Tory had a strategy for escape. When she did manage to avoid notice after the plunge, she surreptitiously slipped away, changing her appearance and assuming another identity. She ends up in a small Oregon town on the opposite coast.

But dreams of betrayal and impending danger haunt Tory’s sleep, slowly converging upon a moment when she finally realizes what she must do. In the parallel world she dreams about, the great Maestro Puccini is fighting against dangers within his household. How will Puccini’s world and Tory’s converge and resonate at just the right time to save Tory and Jack?

And what does a glass butterfly paperweight symbolize in both Puccini’s and Tory’s worlds? How did a serendipitous community of acquaintances become just the support network she needs?

Throughout the pages of  The Glass Butterfly, I read with bated breath, feeling the lurking dangers, yet not knowing how or when they would present themselves. The characters seemed real and their issues were so palpable I felt as though they were part of my own life. I rooted for them all, even though, at times, I found the parallel universe of the Puccinis to be a distraction from the primary tale. In the end, however, I could see how the two worlds connected. Five stars.

SERENDIPITOUS WEDNESDAYS — WAITING ON “THE GLASS BUTTERFLY” — AUGUST 15

Welcome to a Serendipitous Wednesday in which we discover upcoming releases we’re excited about.  Hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine, hop on over and see what’s coming.

My pick today is an exciting book due out 8/28/12, called The Glass Butterfly, by Louise Marley.

 

The only way therapist Victoria Lake can think to protect her estranged son, Jack, from a case turned deadly is to make a complete break from the past. As painful as it is, it’s safer for him if he – and her enemies – think she’s dead. Jack never wanted to believe in his mother’s psychic abilities. Yet he can’t deny his own conviction that she’s alive, despite the meticulous police investigation and the somber funeral. To survive, Victoria knows she has to reinvent herself completely. She can’t even listen to her beloved Puccini. But without the music in her ears, eerie dreams invade her sleep. Lush with the sounds and sights of 19th-century Tuscany, they’re also loaded with a present-day warning she can’t afford to ignore…

***

I am so glad I don’t have long to wait for this one!  What are you waiting for?  Come on by and share….