Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

cover153268-medium‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

What could be better than reconnecting with an old friend, the best friend you’d ever had?  That was exactly how Mel thought when she opened Abi’s email.  They’d have a chance to erase all the years between them and make things good again.  For a while, they were.  But then, everything went to hell in a handbasket.

I Invited Her In is exactly the kind of thriller I enjoy.  Best friends coming together after years apart only to uncover secrets piled on top of secrets.  And let me tell you, both Abi and Mel have boatloads full of secrets between them.

Melanie was easy for me to relate to.  While I wasn’t a teenage, single mother, I am the mother of two girls, one of which is the same age as Liam.  That put me in a place where I could easily understand her rage, her fear, her desperation.  Even when she overreacted and was over the top, I still got it.  That drive to protect your kids at all costs is a strong one.

Abigail, on the other hand, I did not understand at all.  Mostly because I wasn’t ever the popular, glamorous type.  But she’s also very self-absorbed and you see this from the very beginning. In the way she never offers to help, constantly monopolizes Mel’s time, and other things.  I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt but, instead of growing to like her, I wound up despising her.  Which was probably the point, but that’s something else entirely.  I did feel some pity for Abi, however, but her actions were way above and beyond the hurt she was feeling.

I’m a very gullible reader, I’ll admit to that.  When everyone else sees the ending coming, I’m taken by surprise.  That’s okay though, I can live with being gullible in a fictional world.  However, I knew this book would have some kind of twist at the end and I was not expecting either that we got.  The first, I had some inkling that something would happen, I just hadn’t expected it to be that.  The other though?  I was definitely shocked, although I probably shouldn’t have been.

I Invited Her In was slow to start but, once you get to the meat of the story, it takes off from there.  As soon as I found out what was really going on, I was hooked.  And that’s when the wheels come off and all the secrets start to pour out.  I wish that the author had given some of these tidbits earlier on.  Even hinting at some of them might have made the first part of the book move a little faster.  However, I stuck it out and am not sorry that I did.  What a wild ride this novel was!

4/5

*Thank you to Netgalley, the authors, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

cover146090-mediumSeeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly. Continue reading “Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen”

Review: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre

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On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request. Continue reading “Review: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre”

Review: Kiss Her Goodbye by Susan Gee

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Kirsten Green is my best friend.
Kirsten Green has gone missing.
 

I killed Kirsten Green.

Seventeen-year-old Hayley Reynolds is unwanted at home, and an outsider at school. Pushed away by her best friend Kirsten Green, she makes a deliberate, chilling decision – if Kirsten can’t belong to her, then she won’t belong to anyone…

DI Beverley Samuels has the body of a schoolgirl on her hands – a murder that brings back the hauntingly painful memories of the case she’s tried so desperately to forget. There’s something deeply disturbing about this crime – and yet with little hard evidence it’s up to her to decide who she will believe…

I’m not going to lie – this is a gorgeous cover.  It’s initially what drew me to the book in the first place.  Which is a good thing becuase it made me want to read the blurb and the blurb intrigued me enough to request the book from Netgalley.

Hayley Reynolds is quite a character.  Half the time you don’t know if she’s lying or being truthful, although you figure out quite quickly that she’s not very trustworthy.  It was annoying in so many ways for the first half of the book, this constant lying and then retracting.  But, as you find out more and more about her history – her mother’s ‘illness’ and the reasons why her father left – the pieces begin to fall into place.  By the end, when you find out the truth about the baby, I almost felt sorry for her.  Almost, becuase she’s rational enough to know that the things she’s doing are wrong and does them anyway.  While it makes for a great story, it also makes it difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her.

Beverly Samuels is another story.  While she is also a fascinating character, her motives are much easier to undestand.  The guilt she carries from a previous case cause her to overthink everything she and everyone else says and does.  With her previous inaction having resulted in a teenaged girl dying, she’s determined to not make the same mistake again.  Sadly, her narrow-minded approach causes something much worse to happen this time around.  While she’s not totally at fault, Hayley’s quite believable when she wants to be, if she’d had a bit of a more open-minded approach, maybe she would have seen the truth sooner.

Both Hayley and Beverly are a mess emotionally, although their reasons are very different from each other.  Hayley’s lies and Beverly’s obsession with finding the truth lead the two into a convoluted dance of truth and falsehoods.  At times, this back and forth between them, as well as Hayley and her mother’s boyfriend, Mike, cause the story to drag.  The characters are too busy scene setting to move the plot along.  I wasn’t sure why some of the characters were even there, honestly.  That said, the premise was fascinating.  The idea of a teenaged psychopath is terrifying and lends to a dark, intense story.  Despite not wanting to dream a sixteen-year-old is capable of the things Hayley does, in today’s world, it’s all too believable.

3.5/5

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Aria, for this advanced copy of the book for review.  

Review: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

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Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

Jessie is an interesting character in that I can both relate to her and not.  I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my mother, and I’m a heck of a lot older than she is.  Also, I’m not alone in that I have lots of family around me.  But that thought of but what if  can really haunt you.  I know losing her will wreck me but I also have no idea what it’s like to be so horribly alone.  Jessie’s mother, Eden, is a whole other story.  She had everything and lost it all due to her insatiable quest for one singular thing.  And while I understand her feelings on the subject, I’m not sure I would have gone to the lengths she did.

I loved the alternating points of view between Jessie in the present and Eden in the past and the twisty route they took to meet in the end.  The two combined voices really keep you off balance as Jessie searches for her true identity.  Did her mother do the unthinkable or is there simply some mistake at Social Security?  What is the truth and how does she find it?  Add into this Jessie’s long-held desire to know her father and the days and days she’s gone without sleep and you’re on a slippery slope of craziness.

The thing you may be hearing a lot about, however, is the twist at the end.  At first, I was angry.  But now that I’ve let it sit for a week or so, I’m finding myself of two minds about this.  On one hand, it’s brilliant.  It resolves everything and nothing at the same time.  Suddenly, every insane bit of the story makes sense.  And yet, it’s a bit of a cop out in the sense that everything that happened was pointless.  I may never really know how I feel about this book.  What I can tell you is that, even if you hate that last ten percent, the other ninety is definitley worth the read.

When the Lights go Out  is an intense roller coaster ride of epic proportions.  It starts a little slowly but, once Jessie gets the call from the financial aid office at school, it really takes off in a rush of events and chaos.   You never know what Jessie is going to say, do, or discover next.  I found myself unable to stop reading simply becuase I needed to know what is the truth?

4/5

*This was part of my personal collection although I won an ARC from Goodreads, so thanks to them, the author, and the publisher for the giveaway.

Review: What Happened that Night by Sandra Block

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I feel awful, I thought I had reviewed this and I hadn’t.

Dahlia’s life was on track.  A sucessful law student on her way to a brilliant career ahead of her, she had everything going for her.  Then, by a stroke of bad luck, she runs into the wrong person at a party and is brutally assualted.  Not having any memory of that night, she does everything to get on with her life as best she can. Years later, while working as a paralegal, she stumbles across some co-workers watching a video of her assualt and her world is turned upside down in an instant. Continue reading “Review: What Happened that Night by Sandra Block”