REVIEW: Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House

Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Berkley

 

Can you imagine coming home one day to find strangers moving their belongings into YOUR home? Unpacking and putting things away while you stand there in shock? Well, that’s exactly what has happened to Fiona Lawson in “Our House”.

The book starts off right at the heart of it. Our female protagonist, forty-two-year-old, Fiona Lawson is heading down her street and sees what looks like someone carrying items into her house. She thinks that she must be seeing things. But she’s not…two moving men are clearly walking down HER path, taking things into HER house.

She sees a woman who she thinks must be a friend of her estranged husband, Bram. But when she speaks to this woman she’s in no way prepared for what she hears.

“We’re just moving in. My husband will be here soon with the second van.”

She’s also not prepared for what she sees inside the house. ALL of their things are gone. The house is empty…well except for the stranger’s things being moved in.

“I’m telling you – you must have made a mistake. I’m telling you it’s not possible for you to have bought a house that was never for sale.”

Prior to this, Fiona and her soon to be ex-husband, Bram have been sharing custody of their boys, as well as their house at 91 Trinity Avenue.  Whoever’s turn it is to be with the children stays in the house with them while the other parent stays somewhere else.  It’s a fairly new and unique way of doing things. It’s called “Bird’s nest custody”.

But right now Fiona has no idea what’s going on. Plus she can’t find Bram. She calls him but his phone is out of service. It’s like he’s fallen off the face of the earth. At that moment, she realizes her house is the least of her worries. Where is Bram? Where are her children?

 “And in that instant, her waking nightmare becomes something so terrifying it has no name.”

This was such an interesting and unique read. I really enjoyed how the story was told with alternating perspectives. I also enjoyed the social media aspect. “The Victim” is a podcast where Fiona tells her story. Interspersed throughout the novel are comments from listeners of the podcast as well as excerpts from a word document that help to give readers another point of view.

“This was how human disaster worked: you began by trying to conceal a mistake and you finished up here, the perpetrator of a hundred further mistakes.”

Though I did figure out a couple of things ahead of time, I was still completely in the grip of this intriguing story. An interesting plot, some great characters, along with a few great twists made this a very enjoyable read. I also really liked how everything came together in the end.

In my opinion, “Our House” was a  well-written, intriguing domestic suspense novel that has me excited to see what Louise Candlish writes next!

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

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REVIEW – An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl

Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

I really enjoyed Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s previous novel “The Wife Between Us”. So as soon as I saw the cover for this novel and read the synopsis, I knew I just had to read it.

I devoured this novel in just a few hours, ignoring everything and everyone as I read.

The book opens as twenty-eight-year-old makeup artist; Jessica Farris is heading to her last appointment of the day. She travels to her clients instead of them coming to her. Even though she doesn’t always know who will answer the door, Jessica doesn’t fear strangers. She’s learned that “more harm can come from familiar faces”.

Jessica enjoys what she does. Her appointment is with two young women who are going out to a club that evening. As she applies their makeup, she loses herself in her work, barely hearing the women chatting to each other. But then she overhears a voicemail message one of the women plays…

“This is Ben Quick, Dr. Shields’s assistant. I’m confirming your appointments this weekend, for tomorrow and Sunday from eight to ten a.m. The location again is Hunter Hall, Room 214. I’ll meet you in the lobby and take you up.”

Jessica doesn’t know that this message will change her life completely.

A psych professor needs subjects for a study on morality and ethics. Applicants will be paid to answer questions. Jessica could really use the money. So when she hears that her client likely won’t be attending, she decides to go in her place…

She’s accepted into the study and will be bound by a confidentiality agreement. Jessica is told there are no right or wrong answers, she just needs to be completely open and honest. The questions are personal and may trigger very emotional responses….

“Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?”

But Jessica surprises herself and the doctor when she doesn’t shy away from the questions. When the sessions are complete, the doctor asks if Jessica would consider expanding her participation in the study. It would mean more would be asked of her…. SIGNIFICANTLY MORE. It would also mean more money.

Jessica really opens up to the doctor. She talks about the pressure she’s under and the secret she’s kept for so many years. “Guilt is always the heaviest thing I carry”. With Dr. Shields, she’s able to reveal things she’s never talked about before.

But as the project expands, Jessica starts to wonder what the doctor is doing with all of the information collected. What will the doctor do with Jessica’s innermost thoughts? Her confessions? Her mistakes? Then the assignments take a strange and unexpected turn. Is she just being paranoid or is something sinister going on?

An Anonymous Girl” was a thought-provoking and phenomenal read. It pulled me in from the beginning and wouldn’t let go. The chapters are a nice length and alternate between Jessica and the doctor’s point of view.

In my opinion, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen knocked this one out of the park. This was a fascinating psychological suspense novel with a great storyline, excellent characters, and twists and turns that kept me flipping pages at a rapid pace.

A wonderfully dark and suspenseful novel about love, anger, betrayal, morality, and obsession.

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

REVIEW – Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

Believe Me

Expected publication:  July 24, 2018 by Ballantine Books

I enjoyed this author’s previous novel “The Girl Before” and was really looking forward to reading this one too. “Believe Me” was previously published in 2001 under the title “The Decoy”. The author states that:

“although built around the same idea as the earlier one, and containing some of the same scenes, is completely different in plot, characterization, and structure.”

Claire Wright a 25-year-old British woman with dreams of becoming an actress is struggling to make it in America. Because she doesn’t have a green card her options for work are limited. She NEEDS to make it in the U.S. She can’t go back to work in London….not after what happened there.

America is her second chance.

She has a scholarship for an Actors Studio course, but it only pays tuition, not living expenses. She is allowed to work on campus but those jobs are few and far between. In other words, she’s broke.

Claire will do anything to keep acting…

Then she gets an opportunity to work for a divorce attorney. It’s easy money and the work is easy too. She is hired to entrap cheating husbands…though she prefers to think of it as “behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Her ability to act, to become someone else came from how she grew up. Most of the time she feels like the husbands have it coming. Although sometimes she feels a little disgusted by what she does.

When her next “job” doesn’t turn out as planned, EVERYTHING changes and things take a very dark turn. Claire is resilient and cunning, but can she do what she needs to finish this assignment?

What happens when even you don’t know who you are anymore?

I thought this was a really engrossing read and I had a hard time putting it down. The characters won’t win any awards for Miss/Mr. Congeniality, but I was intrigued by them. Usually, it bothers me if I can’t connect with characters, but it didn’t irritate me as much as it normally would. In fact, I liked not knowing who I could trust.

I didn’t care much for the erotic poetry (which may be because I didn’t understand it). However, I still enjoyed the rest of the story, and I have to admit, I did end up Googling to find out more about “Les Fleurs du Mal” by Charles Baudelaire.

Overall, I found this to be quite an entertaining psychological thriller. The story had some great twists and turns, leading up to an intense and gripping ending that I never saw coming!

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

REVIEW – Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Rust & Stardust

Expected publication: August 7, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press 

 

From the blurb, I read that this was the true crime story that inspired, Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”.

But this is not a true-crime story in the traditional sense.   I was eager to get started but had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was that the book was based on a true story. I had to stop myself from Googling as I read. I wanted to wait until I was finished before I searched for anything about the actual crime.  

An excellent read! I was hooked right from the start!

 Camden, New Jersey (June 1948)

11-year-old Sally Horner is an inquisitive and happy child. She loves learning and even loves going to school, but she has a hard time fitting in. One day she sees the girls at school doing a blood sisters oath. Sally would do anything to be a part of that group. The girls know that Sally wants to be friends with them. They tell her she can be part of the group IF she steals something from Woolworth’s. Sally is hesitant but she follows through, slipping a five-cent black marble composition notebook into her sweater and hurries to leave the store. Sally doesn’t realize that stealing that notebook will change her life forever.

52-year-old Frank LaSalle is just out of prison. He sees Sally steal the notebook and decides to make his move. He claims to be FBI and tells Sally she’ll do as he says …unless she wants to be arrested and taken to jail. Terrified, Sally does as he asks.

The chapters alternate between Sally and many other characters. We read about Sally’s time with LaSalle, the places they lived, and the people Sally came in contact with.  There are chapters from Sally’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law’s point of view.  They all struggle with guilt, anger, and blame. So many things could have changed the outcome of this story.

“But the even greater mystery, she thought, was Sally herself. What on earth would have made her agree to go with him, this fiend?”

This is an extremely chilling, emotional, and heartbreaking story that had me by the throat. I had to take a break now and then, but it wasn’t long before I picked the book back up again.

“While the series of events and the settings in which they occur mirror history”, this is a work of fiction. She dreamed herself into Sally’s life. Events were dramatized, relationships constructed, the sequence of events changed.

Though disturbing at times, this was a brilliantly written and intense read that had me Googling for hours once I finished the book. I am really looking forward to reading more from this author.

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