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.

Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

22253643Marrow
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: April 16, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.


Um…I don’t even know where to start when reviewing Marrow. This book was just so…disturbing. There wasn’t one thing about it that didn’t get under my skin or make me uncomfortable. It disturbed me so much at times that I take breaks from reading it. This shouldn’t surprise me. I felt the same way while reading Fisher’s Mud Vein. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what this story had to give.

Marrow is the story of Margo Moon. Margo barely exists. She lives with her mother in a horrible neighborhood filled with horrible people and horrible things. The only bright light in Margo’s life is her friendship with Judah. Despite being in a wheelchair, Judah sees the good in life. Their relationship gives Margo hope she hasn’t had before. That hope lasts until Margo’s young neighbor girl goes missing. Margo takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Neveah. What she finds will force her into avenging the wrongs taking place around her.

Margo was an interesting character. In the beginning, I loved her because I felt so bad for her. Margo was stuck in a situation created by her birth. There was nothing she could do to change it. She was a child who deserved more from life. Margo just didn’t have any positive support until she became friends with Judah. He made her want things to be better. I loved seeing that change in her.  As she grew older and horrible things began to happen around her, Margo changed again. Her new-found confidence created a person who felt the need to take justice into her own hands. That Margo freaked me out.  The more Margo took on her role of punisher, the darker the story became — and it was already pretty dang dark to begin with.

I never saw the twists and turns coming in Marrow. There were moments where I was disgusted. There were moments when I was sad. There were moments when I was completely confused. When I got to the end, all I could say was,

What the heck did I just read? 

I’m still not sure of the answer to that. My mind has been messed with in ways only Tarryn Fisher can accomplish. Once again, she’s written a beautifully disturbing tale. Marrow will suck you in, torment you and leave you thinking about it for weeks after you’re done. If you’re a fan of dark storytelling, this one is for you.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Put Me On Edge

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Halloween Related Freebie. I am not a fan of scary novels but I do read thrillers every once in a while, so I decided to go with Ten Books That Put Me On Edge.


1. The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh

2. Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

3. Those Girls
by Chevy Stevens

4. Delicate Monsters
by Stephanie Kuehn

5. Mud Vein
by Tarryn Fisher

6. One Kick
by Chelsea Cain

7. In the Woods
by Tana French

8. Bone Dust White
by  Karin Salvalaggio

9. Hannibal
by Thomas Harris

10. Jagger
by Heather C. Leigh

Jagger-ebook

Review: Dark Water by Sara Bailey

darkwater7Dark Water
Author: Sara Bailey
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Note: I received an ARC from Nightingale Editions in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Friendship doesn’t die, it waits…

A haunting and lyrical novel, Dark Water is a psychologically intense portrait of adolescent yearning and obsession.

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Her best friend, the charismatic Anastasia, disappeared after a swimming incident. But what really happened that night by the wrecks?


I have mixed feelings about Dark Water. On one hand, it was an incredibly strong debut novel. On the other, it didn’t really feel like a psychological thriller.

Sara Bailey’s writing in Dark Water is exceptional. The pictures she paints in her novel are clear and concise. Her descriptions of Orkney were so beautiful and haunting. They took over the novel at times, but that was a good thing because the setting played a huge part in the story. I liked the characters and their dark history.

There were a couple of things that kept me from truly appreciating Dark Water, though. First, The story unraveled so slowly that it never truly pulled me in. I wasn’t truly invested in it until the last third of the book. That’s when the story felt like it really took shape and built toward an amazing ending. Second, I was interested in the characters and their present points of view, but not as much as I was interested in the past. The little bits of it I got weren’t enough. I wanted more of them. They were the only parts that made me feel like I was reading a psychological thriller.

Overall, Dark Water was a well written and interesting tale of the bond of an obsessive adolescent friendship. It wasn’t quite the psychological thriller I was hoping, but it was still a tale I think readers of the genre might enjoy.