REVIEW: SHE’S GONE, BY DAVID BELL

When 17-year-old Hunter Gifford wakes in the hospital on the night of homecoming, he’s shocked to learn he and his girlfriend, Chloe Summers, have been in a terrible car accident. Hunter has no memory of the crash, and his shock turns to horror when he is told Chloe’s blood has been found in the car—but she has disappeared.

Back at school, his fellow students taunt him, and his former best friend starts making a true-crime documentary about the case—one that points the finger directly at Hunter. And just when things can’t get any worse, Chloe’s mother stands in front of the entire town at a candlelight vigil and accuses Hunter of murder.

Under mounting pressure from the police, Hunter takes matters into his own hands by questioning anyone who might know the truth and posting videos to prove his innocence. When Hunter learns he and Chloe were seen arguing loudly outside the dance, he faces a sickening possibility. Was he angry enough to kill the person he loved?

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She’s Gone is the story of Hunter and Chloe, and what happened to them at Homecoming and before…before she disappeared. Whatever went on between them was forgotten by Hunter, blocked out, and despite what others believe, he is determined that there are answers and that he isn’t guilty.

We watch as he and some of his friends search for answers, but along the way to finding out the truth, more obstacles appear.

Hunter’s voice is compelling, and no matter what comes up, I am rooting for him. Feeling that there is more to the story.

I liked how we keep following clues, not knowing where they’ll lead, and then, surprisingly, we seem to stumble on the truth. Stunned, but not really that surprised. A 4.5 star read.

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REVIEW: THE FAVOR, BY NICCI FRENCH

It’s a simple enough favor.

Jude hasn’t seen Liam in years, but when he shows up at her work asking for a favor, she finds she can’t refuse. All Jude has to do is pick Liam up at a country train station—without telling anyone. So what if she has to lie to her fiancé? Jude is still committed to him and their imminent wedding, even if she and Liam were in love once.

She owes him.

After the car crash that changed everything years ago, bright, ambitious Jude went to medical school, back on the path she had planned before meeting moody, artistic Liam. Meanwhile, he never fully recovered from the dark stain the accident left on his record.

Now he’s gone.

When the police show up at the station instead of Liam, Jude realizes that she knows nothing about the man he’s become. Now she’s tangled up in his life, the last person to have seen him, and maybe the only one who can uncover the truth about what went wrong—even if she destroys her own life in the process.
 
 
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When Dr. Jude Winter sees her ex-boyfriend, Liam, from eleven years before, she is stunned. And then when he asks The Favor that seemed like a simple one, she has no idea that her life will be upended. Or that he could end up dead.

Why did she do it? Even as she travels to the little cottage where she will wait for Liam to join her and explain the favor, she wonders why she is doing this.

As chaos follows, and as Jude meets the so-called “family” with whom he had lived, she is desperately trying to get off this course. But everything she tries to do turns out to be wrong.

As the story finally comes to a stunning end, Jude knows that nothing in her life will ever be the same again. But she can start over. Finally. A brilliant 5 star read.
 
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REVIEW: THE LYING WIFE, BY KATHRYN CROFT

Be careful what you wish for…

Callie has known sadness, and sometimes doubted she would ever have the life she wanted. When she meets James, also no stranger to grief, it seems as though her luck has changed. She becomes his wife, and in the process a step-mother to his two sons. Callie has finally got what she always imagined for herself.

But things don’t go to plan for Callie. She tries to get things right, but at every turn she makes mistakes. If she can only show her new family just how much she cares, perhaps everything will be okay. Yet the harder she tries, the more she fails. A split-second decision leads to her spiralling out of control, and there is no way back for Callie.

When the police arrest her for murder, the dark tale of Callie’s shocking fall from grace slowly unfolds. But how much is Callie willing to reveal about the choices she made? If those she cares for the most learn the truth, they will hate her. Will her secrets be her undoing? Or will she tell the truth, no matter the cost?

 

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As we follow Callie’s journey in The Lying Wife, we know that she is her own worst enemy. Whenever she has an opportunity to change the path she is on, she takes the wrong one.

We have to feel a little sorry for her, of course, especially when it comes to the horrible behavior of her stepsons. And I couldn’t help but feel annoyed with how clueless her husband James is when it comes to his sons.

Callie’s secrets from the past are another issue, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before everything came down on her.

But just when I think it is all sorted, a stunning surprise takes us down a completely different path. A 4.5 star review.

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REVIEW: LOCAL GONE MISSING, BY FIONA BARTON

Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective—or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she’d ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing—the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.

Elise can only guess what really happens behind closed doors. But Dee Eastwood, her house cleaner, often knows. She’s an invisible presence in many of the houses in town, but she sees and hears everything.

The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a weekend music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it’s full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined.

 

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In the small village of Ebbing, we meet several characters whose lives are interconnected, and some of the layers are not known to us at first. But when a festival comes to town, several things happen that will shake everyone up. First, some teenagers are drugged, a man goes missing, and the residents begin to question what they know about any of them.

Local Gone Missing primarily features Charlie, an older man who seems well-liked, but for some reason, he appears to be completely out of it at the festival. As more people become aware of his disappearance, there are bits and pieces of information that are revealed, and the police detectives, including Elise, who is on leave at the time, begin to find strange little details about him that are puzzling. Alternating chapters bring in the voices of other characters, including Dee, a house cleaner who has access to all their homes, and who quietly seems to wrap herself around them through their habits and activities.

When more and more of the details are revealed, we learn that so much of each of their lives are twisted together, from the past and in the present, and it will take all of them to fit the pieces together. A 4.5 star read.

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REVIEW: THE ACCOMPLICE, BY LISA LUTZ

Owen Mann is charming, privileged, and chronically dissatisfied. Luna Grey is secretive, cautious, and pragmatic. Despite their differences, they form a bond the moment they meet in college. Their names soon become indivisible—Owen and Luna, Luna and Owen—and stay that way even after an unexplained death rocks their social circle.

They’re still best friends years later, when Luna finds Owen’s wife brutally murdered. The police investigation sheds light on some long-hidden secrets, but it can’t penetrate the wall of mystery that surrounds Owen. To get to the heart of what happened and why, Luna has to dig up the one secret she’s spent her whole life burying.

The Accomplice brilliantly examines the bonds of shared history, what it costs to break them, and what happens when you start wondering how well you know the one person who truly knows you.

 

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Our story takes us back and forth in time, exploring the connections between friends Owen and Luna, and slowly digging up the secrets that bind them. Meanwhile, people keep dying around them, and when the suspicions grow, I began to doubt them.

Eventually they doubt each other. But as we peel back the layers, we finally see which characters are tearing away at the fabric that has kept them together.

The Accomplice had me rapidly turning pages, and my only quibbles with the story were how the time travel was sometimes confusing. Eventually, as we reach the end, I had a blissful feeling of knowing. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: GHOSTED, BY ROSIE WALSH

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

 

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In the beginning, Ghosted seemed like a typical story about a fling that dropped off with no explanation.  But our protagonist was so convinced that she and Eddie had so much more in that one week together that she couldn’t give up.  She sent numerous messages, did deep searches, called upon the help of friends…and wouldn’t give up.  She even seemed to catch a glimpse of him here and there, even after she returned to the U.S.

What did it all mean?  Why does Sarah feel such a deep connection to Eddie?  As time passes, we see a few tidbits from his side of things and the details begin to fill in.  There was more to the story, but not all of it was good.  The past had come back to haunt them!

I kept turning the pages, hoping for more answers, and when I finally knew the whole truth, I held my breath, waiting to see what Eddie and Sarah would do.  A story that brought me to the edge…and then left me smiling with a very warm feeling.  4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE SHADOW BOX, BY LUANNE RICE

After artist Claire Beaudry Chase is attacked and left for dead in her home on the Connecticut coast, she doesn’t know who she can trust. But her well-connected husband, Griffin—who is running for governor—is her prime suspect.

Just before the attack, Claire was preparing for an exhibit of her shadow boxes, one of which clearly accuses Griffin of a violent crime committed twenty-five years ago. If the public were to find out who her husband is, his political career would be over. Claire’s certain her husband and his powerful supporters would kill her to stop the truth from getting out.

When one of Claire’s acquaintances is murdered, the authorities suspect the homicide is linked to the attack on Claire. As the dual investigations unfold, Claire must decide how much she’s willing to lose to take down her husband and the corrupt group of elites who will do anything to protect Griffin’s interests and their own.

 

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The Shadow Box created by artist Claire Chase reveals the secrets that can take down a corrupt politician, and Claire is focused on bringing the evil members of his club to justice. They are a group of men who are determined to win and change the state to fit their agenda and eliminate those who know their secrets.

As Claire hides out until she can prove the evil around her, we watch others who are also at work to save those who are targeted by the men protecting Claire’s husband. In the process she discovers just who she can rely on when their job is done. An intense thriller that kept me turning pages. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: MY DARLING HUSBAND, BY KIMBERLY BELLE

Everyone is about to know what her husband isn’t telling her…

Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.

Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.

With riveting twists and a breakneck pace, My Darling Husband is an utterly compelling thriller that once again showcases Kimberly Belle’s exceptional talent for domestic suspense.

 

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When Jade and her two children are grabbed by someone who has been watching them, the home invasion turns into a frightening countdown to the final moment when Jade’s husband Cam will have gathered the ransom money and arrived in time to save his family.

But Cam is not as financially secure as Jade had believed, and furthermore, the home invader is not a passing stranger. He has a history with Cam…and a vendetta to resolve.  My Darling Husband is not who he seems to be.

As more details are revealed throughout the day, we soon realize that there are so many layers beyond what had initially seemed like a one-off scramble for money. Unexpected motivations stunned me by the very end. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE NEW WIFE, BY SUE WATSON

You can never truly know what goes on behind closed doors…

My darling son, Sam, is marrying his childhood sweetheart and I couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s grown into. Walking out on his abusive father all those years ago was the best thing I ever did. And today he stands, tall and handsome, saying ‘I do’ to my dream daughter-in-law. If I hadn’t pushed them together all those years ago, he might never have found a girl as perfect as Lauren. It’s true what they say, mother always knows best.

But weeks later, Lauren is dead and police cars fill the driveway of their idyllic countryside home. As they question Sam, I sense he’s hiding something. Why won’t he look me in the eye? And who does he rush off to meet as soon as the police are gone?

Desperate, I do what every good mother would do: I let myself into Sam and Lauren’s bedroom. What I see, I will never be able to forget. My son’s beautiful new wife was hiding a dangerous secret. Can I clear my son’s name? And could my life be in danger now too?

 

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As I immersed myself in The New Wife, I felt connections to the first-person narrator Georgie, and through her eyes, saw the characters that surrounded her. Her view of them felt like the truth, but as time passed, it was soon apparent that they all had secrets and were caught up in lies.

Sam’s lies turn out to be quite different than we imagined, and even though we couldn’t stand Sadie, there was more to her, too. Even Tim and Helen were no longer the sweet friends one could turn to in trouble.

As we begin to sort through the hidden parts of the characters, a more complete picture is revealed. A great twisty story. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: ROCK PAPER SCISSORS, BY ALICE FEENEY

Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts—paper, cotton, pottery, tin—and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

 

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Adam and Amelia alternately narrate their stories, interspersed with letters from someone signed “wife.” The “Rock Paper Scissors” game was a familiar theme, and while it seemed playful, there was a darkness surrounding it. As we learn more and more about them and their secrets, we “meet” other characters, like Robin, who seems to live near the vacation cottage. But that cottage has so many weird aspects that we just know that nothing will end well.

As the end approaches and more is revealed, I realized that I didn’t like any of the characters! There might not be a happily ever after for some of them, so the ending seemed inevitable. I was still stunned by what eventually happened. And then, even more was revealed in a final chapter. 5 stars

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