REVIEW- Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks

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Published March 6, 2018 by Dutton Books

 

This was my first Brad Parks read and I REALLY enjoyed it! When I first read the description for this novel, I was thoroughly intrigued. I couldn’t wait to start reading.

The book opens with a well-dressed affluent couple walking into Shenandoah Valley Social Services. As they are about to enter the man turns to his wife and says “Remember, we’re perfect” and the wife replies “The perfect couple”. The Family Services specialist agrees with them. Families like theirs usually adopted privately or traveled abroad. But they want to foster and adopt locally. They are reminded that it could be months or years before a baby is available. But the couple seem unconcerned. They completed all of the necessary steps and now they are receiving their certificate. As they are leaving the woman wonders if this could have all been for nothing. The man tells her not to worry…

We’ll have a baby in no time”

Melanie Barrick knows firsthand what social services or “the system” is like. She grew up in it. But she survived her childhood and now has a great job, a wonderful husband, and best of all…she has Alex, her perfect son. But Melanie’s life turns into a nightmare when she attempts to pick up her son from daycare only to be told that he’s been taken away by social services. Melanie doesn’t understand how this could happen. But she gets no help from the babysitter. The only thing the woman will say to her…

“They told me all about you. I hope they get that child as far away from you as possible”

Melanie knows that occasionally horrible people will call in fake anonymous tips to social services.  But who would do this to her family? Melanie is terrified because she knows that once a family is in the system, it is “guilty until proven innocent”. As Melanie pulls into her driveway at home, she tries to calm down. She reassures herself that they will sort this out, that everything will be okay…

THEN she sees that there is police tape stretched across her front door. And unfortunately, the hits just keep coming. Melanie learned a lot of things from her time as a ward of the state, but the one thing she’s always remembered…

“Disaster is always closer than you know”

WOW! You sure know how to tell a great story, Mr. Parks!!!

Fast-paced and gripping, this was an awesome read. After a really intense and intriguing start, it was impossible for me to put this novel down. I didn’t want to stop reading. I was anxious one minute and terrified the next… I could NOT wait to see how it all was going to play out.

This was a fast-paced psychological suspense with great characters and a story-line that didn’t disappoint. There was a lot going on and it all came together to what I thought was an excellent ending.

I can easily see just how much research the author put into this novel. Although it is a fictional story, there are still many things that can be learned here. It was really interesting reading how this story came about. I am really looking forward to reading more from Brad Parks.

Highly recommended!!

 

I’d like to thank Dutton for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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REVIEW: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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Expected publication: April 10th 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

I’ve read quite a few of Lisa Scottoline’s novels over the years and have always enjoyed them. However, I have to say that I enjoy her stand-alone novels the most. I especially enjoyed her last novel “One Perfect Lie”. And after reading the description for this new domestic thriller, I was really excited to get reading.

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

 

Maggie and Noah are getting a second chance at a happily ever after. And on top of that, Anna, Maggie’s daughter has come to live with them. Maggie hasn’t seen or spoken to her daughter since she was an infant. Anna is now seventeen years old. Her ex-husband had won custody of Anna at just six months old.  But now she’s back and Maggie couldn’t be happier. Finally, her family is complete.

Her stepson and husband are just as happy as Maggie to have Anna come live with them, and at first everything is great. However, it’s not long before there’s a strain in the family, especially between Anna and Noah.  Noah thinks that Anna doesn’t like the rules and that she’s manipulating everyone, but Maggie doesn’t see it.

But then disaster strikes….and suddenly Noah is fighting for his freedom. Will he lose the family he cherishes?

But if he didn’t do what he’s accused of…who did?

In my opinion, this was a well-paced and engrossing read that I sped through in just a couple of sittings.  The story is told from both Maggie and Noah’s point of view and alternates chapters with Maggie “before” and Noah “after”.

Honestly, I was pretty sure I knew one of the twists early on. However, it didn’t really bother me. In fact, I read even faster because I wanted to see if I was right. And I was right…partially. The rest of it, I would never have guessed. There were a couple of little things that threw me but overall, I really enjoyed this novel. The last few chapters were especially gripping and I was on edge wondering how it was going to work out.  I do wish the ending had a little more to it. I think just a few more pages would have been very satisfying.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Lisa Scottoline comes up with next!

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

REVIEW: Sunburn by Laura Lippman

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Published February 20, 2018 by HarperLuxe

 

The cover of “Sunburn” caught my eye right away. And after reading the book description, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this new novel from Laura Lippman.

The novel opens in Belleville, Delaware in 1995.

When Polly and Adam meet at the High-Ho restaurant in Belleville, they’re both just passing through. Polly, a redhead with a two-day-old sunburn catches Adam’s eye. They aren’t sure what to make of each other. It isn’t love at first sight but there is a definite attraction.

Polly has a past but she’s planning for a brighter future. She has no intention of changing those plans or letting anyone stand in her way. But sometimes people with the best intentions have the worst luck.

It’s not long before Adam and Polly are completely wrapped up in each other. Somehow these two strangers who are supposed to just be passing through end up staying in Belleville that summer.

They both know it won’t last. It can’t last….could it?

Although Adam knows some of Polly’s past he realizes there’s so much more that he doesn’t know.

But no one knows her whole story. She plans to keep it that way”

He’s been warned about Polly. He’s been told that she’s only out for herself.

Whatever you do, don’t turn your back on her. Even face to face, you might not be safe with that one.”

But Adam can’t reconcile these warnings with the woman he’s getting to know. But he does wonder where she goes on those days that she borrows his truck.

Polly also wonders if she can trust Adam. Is it really just a coincidence that they ended up in the same small town, at the same time? Polly’s track record with men…well, it’s muddy, to say the least. But for some reason, she feels safe with Adam, like she can finally be herself. But her past continues to haunt her, and not everyone is happy for Polly and Adam.

Though they both have some reservations, Polly and Adam start to make plans for the future. But then something happens that throws a wrench into those plans. Will what they have together survive what comes next?

I really enjoyed this novel. It was a bit of a slow burn at first, but the pace picked up and it wasn’t long before I was caught up in the story. Polly and Adam were both very complex characters, with secrets that left me unsure of who I should trust. Polly especially intrigued me. I wanted to know the reasons for some of her actions.

There were quite a few points of view, though the majority of the story was told from Polly and Adam’s perspective.

Sunburn” was an entertaining psychological suspense novel with an intriguing storyline that kept me flipping pages well past my bedtime. However, it was worth it as I loved how everything came together in an unexpected but extremely satisfying way.

Thank you to William Morrow for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

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Expected publication: March 13th, 2018 by Flatiron Books

 

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

 

1. I’m in a coma.

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.

3. Sometimes I lie.

 

Amber Reynolds wakes up and doesn’t know where she is. For a moment she wonders if it might be a hotel. But then she realizes she’s in a hospital. She doesn’t know how she got there.

Why can’t she open her eyes?

She knows her name, that she’s thirty-five years old, and that she’s married to Paul. Memories come but she pushes them away. Something very bad has happened but she can’t remember what or when.

“Why isn’t he here?”

But she may already know the answer.

She screams but no one can hear her.

“I just need someone to switch me back on”

There is a word that she doesn’t like. She’s alone with the word. She can’t move. She can’t speak.

Coma

She wonders how badly she’s injured. She’s all there in body and mind. She’s starting to have a hard time separating dreams from reality. Time has a different meaning. She counts seconds. She realizes just how long she’s been alone.

She doesn’t know what happened to her…

Now HE’S there. He’s crying. She doesn’t want to be alone with him but she doesn’t know why.

“Hold on,” he says.

So many questions…

Why is he lying?

Another person comes in …another voice.

“You did this to yourself”

Whoa!  My head is spinning. What a mind-bending and engrossing read! I had been hearing great things about this novel, and I’m happy to say that for me, it absolutely lived up to the hype.

So many things I didn’t see coming. I thought I had things all figured out until something would happen that had me second guessing myself. Nothing is as it seems. With so many great twists and turns, you have no idea who you can trust.

Sometimes I Lie” is Alice Feeney’s debut novel and what a debut it was!  This was a well-written and compelling psychological thriller. I can’t wait to see what Alice Feeney writes next.