Review: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Dead Certain
Author: Adam Mitzner
Publication Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


Dead Certain is a hard book for me to review. There were several things I really liked about it, but there were some I didn’t. Rather than write out a lengthy review about it all, I’m going to break this review down to what I liked and what I didn’t care for.

What I liked:

  • The mystery behind Charlotte’s disappearance.
  • The chapters of Charlotte’s book. They were the heart of the story for me, and the most interesting clues to her disappearance.
  • The unexpected narrator in the second half.
  • How the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance wrapped up.
  • Ella’s double life. I wanted more of it. It wasn’t as big a factor as I expected.

What I didn’t care for:

  • Ella. Her character wasn’t one I easily connected to. There was something about her personality that annoyed me.
  • The amount of legal detail overwhelmed me at times.
  • The first half of the book was a bit boring, to be honest. The second half was so good. I don’t know how the author could have made the beginning more like the second half, but it would have made the book more entertaining.
  • The plot was somewhat predictable. I knew who did it early on.

Overall thoughts:

Despite not enjoying the first half of this book, the second half totally redeemed Dead Certain in my eyes. Even though I didn’t enjoy that first half, I can now appreciate that part. It made the surprises that were coming in the second half even better.

Would I recommend Dead Certain? Yes. I did end up really liking how things played out, and I think others would, too.

Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Lies You Never Told Me
Author: Jennifer Donaldson
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye–someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with–she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable–breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.


The picture above is of the ARC I received of Lies You Never Told Me. I felt it was important to include this picture because this cover’s claims are true. Lies You Never Told Me was shocking, thrilling, scandalous, unforgettable, and jaw-dropping. I didn’t see the ending coming until I was reading it. It was so cool that the ARC was marketed this way.

I was impressed with Lies You Never Told Me. This is Donaldson’s début novel, but it didn’t feel that way. The writing felt like it was written by an author with numerous novels under her belt. I loved her writing and flew through the book in one sitting. The story was so complex and addictive. I loved the way it was told from a couple of different characters points of view. It kept me guessing as to how they were all related and what all the lies were. The twists kept coming and I loved it.

I’m going to leave my review at that. Lies You Never Told Me is just one of those books you have to read yourself. The less you know going into it, the better. I would caution you to avoid any spoilers. Just jump right into it. You’ll be in for a fun ride.

Review: The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

The Twilight Wife
Author: A.J. Banner
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.


The Twilight Wife was a sleepy psychological thriller. It began with Kyra embarking on a new life with her husband, Jacob. They were moving to a Pacific Northwest island to help Kyra heal from an accident. She had amnesia and could not remember the last four years. Everything about her life felt familiar yet strange. Kyra was in a constant state of confusion over her current life. Even her relationship with her husband, Jacob. Dreams and memories plagued her until she couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. Kyra searched for the answers to her questions about her life, but each revelation twisted what she thought she knew. The truth was more frightening than what she could have imagined.

When I first started listening to The Twilight Wife, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. The narrator’s voice was whimsical, almost dreamlike, when Kyra was talking. It took me a while to get used to that, but then I decided that it was perfect for this book because Kyra was in an almost dreamlike state. She was so confused. The narrator did an excellent job expressing Kyra’s thoughts and emotions.

I loved the setting of this book. Being a PNW resident, I could easily imagine Kyra’s habitat. The author did an amazing job describing the scenery. I felt like I was right there along with the characters. The setting felt like a character itself in this book.

The Twilight Wife was a great audio book, but I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I would have read it. The story unraveled so slowly. That would have bothered me if I had read rather than listened to it. The author does a great job of throwing out pieces of information that made me question where the story was going, but most of the action and excitement was left to the end. I would have liked some of that excitement and suspense felt more throughout the story. It would have moved the story at a faster pace.

What I loved about The Twilight Wife was the surprise it had in store. I felt like I knew where this one was going from almost the beginning, but I didn’t know all of the pieces. I really liked all of the pieces of Kira’s past that were slowly revealed. Her story was bigger than I expected it to be. The explosive ending and wrap up was really good, too.

Overall, The Twilight Wife was a great read. I loved the setting and how the story unraveled. I wish it would have moved at a quicker pace, but I know some readers will enjoy the way things slowly drift from dream to reality.

Review: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to Tell
Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, #2
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . . 

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.


This was my first book by Jayne Ann Krentz. I liked it, but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. I’m going to break my review down into things I liked and the ones I didn’t.

Positives:

  • I was impressed by the plot.
  • There were great twists.
  • I was very interested in the mystery and finding out what was going on.
  • This was the second book in the series, but I felt it could be read as a standalone novel.

Negatives:

  • I did not care for the characters. I couldn’t connect with them. They all came across really off-putting.
  • I didn’t like the third person narration. I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the characters if it wasn’t pointed out because they all sounded negative and the same.
  • The pace of the story was way too slow for me. I found myself getting a little bored in the middle. I needed the twists and reveals to be more spread out throughout the book.
  • I didn’t believe the love story or connection between the main characters.

Honestly, I can see understand how some people would be really into this book. The plot twists are really cool. Like I said, I thought it was good. It probably just wasn’t the thriller for me.

Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Killman Creek
Series: Stillhouse Lake, #2
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.


Killman Creek was one of my most anticipated releases of the winter. The end of Stillhouse Lake promised the mystery and suspense would go on. I couldn’t wait to find out what was next for Gwen, her children, Sam and Melvin.

Tension ran high in Killman Creek. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and slightly uncomfortable the entire time waiting for something horrible to happen. I feared for all of the characters. My fears didn’t stop me from reading this gem of a thriller, though. I couldn’t put Killman Creek down. It was just as fast paced as Stillhouse Lake, but the stakes were higher. Rachel Caine kept the twists and turns coming right up until the very end.

One of my favorite things about Killman Creek was how the relationships between the characters were constantly changing. No one was ever one hundred percent sure about anyone. The relationships really helped drive the story, especially the slightly awkward relationship between Sam and Gwen.

Killman Creek was the perfect follow-up, and a stand out thriller all on its own. I absolutely loved it. If you loved Stillhouse Lake, this book will exceed your expectations. Be ready for some surprises!

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.


Genuine Fraud was an interesting tale. E. Lockhart continued to give the reader the unexpected with it. Genuine Fraud began in the present and each chapter went back in time. The effect was that I felt like I was reading the story backward. The story continued that way all the way until almost the end. It made for a great guessing game. Each chapter divulged just enough to make me keep reading.

I have to admit that I got a bit bored in the middle of the book. I think it’s because I was frustrated. I just wanted to know what the deal was with Jule and Imogen! Once I got to that part, the story flew again for me. I loved the ending, and thought it was very clever.

Overall, Genuine Fraud was a fun read. It was a darker read, but light at the same time. It had great foreshadowing and a cool set up. It was the perfect book to read on my vacation.

Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
Series: Gwen Proctor, #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


When I heard Rachel Caine was releasing a thriller, I was excited. I read her YA Morganville Vampire series years ago, and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was interested to see how that writing style would transfer to an adult thriller.

Stillhouse Lake was an addicting read. Everything about the story held my attention. It was fast paced and constantly changing directions. I loved the depth of the characters and the fact that everyone was hiding something. It made it fun guessing who the bad person was. (I guessed correctly!) It also had a great cliffhanger. I wish the next book was available!!!

I’m not going to go into the plot or characters in this review because I would hate to give anything away. If you like a great thriller, I highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. It was such a fun ride.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Review: Iluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files _01
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


Umm….My mind is pretty much blown from reading this book. Excuse me as I try to make any sense in this review. It’s probably going to be one big ramble!

Illuminae was pure genius. Everything about it was amazing. I loved the way the story was presented. The format was so very smart. It made the story fast-paced and easy to become engaged in. I credit the format for making me, a non science fiction fan, a lover of this book. Well, the format and the characters.

I absolutely loved Kady and Ethan. I was amazed at how well I got to know them and how well developed their characters were despite Illuminae not being told directly from their point of views. Their communications were probably my favorite in the entire book. I couldn’t help root for them. I also loved every supporting character I got a glimpse of throughout this tale.

Honestly, I have no clue what else to say. Illuminae had been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for over a year. I’m pretty mad that I let it sit all this time. It is totally worth any and all hype it’s received. Don’t be like me and wait any longer to read this book. Push it up to the top of your TBR list now.

Now, excuse me while I go purchase Gemina.

Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal
Series: The Lace Reader, #2
Author: Brunonia Barry
Publication Date: January 24, 2016
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?


Brunonia Barry is an author I fell in love with through a past book club. When I first picked up The Lace Reader, I wasn’t sure why a club member had chosen it. It didn’t seem like anything special, but it was. It was the first book I read with an unreliable narrator and it blew my mind. I went on to re-read it multiple times, and that’s not something I normally do. When I saw Barry was releasing a new book, I was excited. When I realized it was a second book in The Lace Reader world I was ecstatic. I was hoping to find the mystery of The Fifth Petal to be just as engrossing as the original novel.

The Fifth Petal wove past and present to create a brilliant mystery. Young Callie Cahill witnesses the brutal murders of her mother and her friends that is never solved. Years later, when a new death becomes linked to the past murders, she returns to Salem to help Police Chief John Rafferty search for the truth about the night her mother was killed.

I was drawn into The Fifth Petal during the Prologue. The mystery began immediately and I wanted to know the answers to all of the questions the characters had just as much as they did. I loved the way Brunonia Barry wove this tale and kept me guessing almost up until the end. She also did an amazing job creating imagery and describing the Salem area. I could picture the entire story vividly in my head.

Callie’s point of view was especially interesting to me. Her lack of memory from that original night and her special “powers” made for an unusual combination. The deeper the story got, the more Callie would remember. The more Callie remembered, the more exciting the story became. I loved the way she pieced everything together.

Rafferty’s police perspective on the mystery added a critical element to the story. It took the supernatural aspect of the story and gave it much-needed grounding in reality. I also loved watching him piece together the answers while wading through the past and present cases. I hate admitting this, but I wasn’t as keen on the way his past with Towner was used. I loved seeing them involved in the story, but at times it just felt like extra added stuff. That may be because it’s been a few years since I’ve read The Lace Reader, and my memory of their relationship isn’t as strong as when I first read it. I wasn’t as drawn to their relationship as I was to what Callie was going through.

While I truly enjoyed reading The Fifth Petal, I did find it to be a little bit long. I was invested in the story the entire time, but there were parts that felt dragged out. The story probably could have wrapped up a little quicker. I had already correctly guessed some of the answers to the mystery at about 75% in. I was just waiting for it all to be presented to me.

Overall, The Fifth Petal was a great mystery to unravel. It’s one fans of The Lace Reader will love and new readers will also enjoy.