Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Publication Date: July 1, 2015

A Dark Lure is perfect for anyone who’s looking to turn off their brains for a few hours and just enjoy the ride. The plot was somewhat predictable, but I still found myself getting lost in the story.

The setting was perfect for a romantic suspense read: an isolated ranch where Olivia has relocated to start over after a horrific ordeal. Olivia is being stalked while also starting to develop feelings for ranch heir Cole. Cole also has his baggage and I was absorbed in finding out what his back story was. It was really sweet to see how these two broken characters could help each other heal.

I love novels with the killer’s point of view included. Freaking creepy as anything! I had to leave all the lights on while reading. There was a great buildup to the complex and I found my heart racing as Olivia finally faced her tormentor.

Fans of thrillers will find A Dark Lure to be the ultimate beach book for the summer!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy

Helplessly drawn like moths to the light, two girls go missing in an evocative and gripping tale . . .

They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore the dilapidated house on Princess Street. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Mandy's memories of the disappearance of her two friends are ignited once again, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.

Publication Date: January 7, 2016

Moth Girls had a good premise, but not my favorite execution. I found Mandy’s day-to-day life a little boring to read about. I liked the chapters that delved into the past friendship Mandy had with the two missing girls: Petra and Tina. The mystery about what happened to the girls is what kept me reading.

The characters were mostly all interesting except for Mandy. For some reason, I couldn’t relate to her or find myself invested in her character. I liked Petra’s chapters, but a lot of the younger versions of the characters didn’t really sound or act like authentic twelve year olds.

The mystery is a very slow boil and it wasn’t until probably the last quarter of the novel that the plot took off. I didn’t guess what had happened to Petra and Tina, but I think that was because the reveal seemed a little far fetched for what I was expecting. Although most of the mystery is resolved, the ending does leave the reader hanging somewhat.

Although I didn’t love Moth Girls, the mystery was appealing enough that I would look for another title from the author.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Publication Date: April 19, 2016

I feel like it’s so hard to come across a good psychological suspense book. This was the reason I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of The Darkest Corners. The Darkest Corners didn’t disappoint and kept me guessing up until the very last pages. Although YA, this is definitely on the mature side.

Although the book is a murder mystery, the story is also a close examination about the complexities of friendship and family. Tessa and Callie have a strained friendship with more downs than ups. They both handle their emotions differently, which has caused friction between them. I was just as eager to have them work out their issues as I was to find out who killed Lori.

I felt for Tessa, because her family was a train wreck. And the more we learned about them, the darker and more heartbreaking the story became. The Darkest Corners is definitely a book you should vow to stick with, the plot only gets better the more you read.

I can’t say much else without spoiling, but this is a marathon read for sure. The climax is exciting with a twist I never saw coming. Pick this book up ASAP! 

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

The May Queen Murders was a very okay book for me. I actually expected to like it a whole lot more than I did. The setup was fantastic and the setting eerie. Despite all the makings of a perfect creepy YA novel, I found myself putting it down more often than I anticipated.

The setting felt much like a retelling of The Village to me. The community where Ivy resides is isolated and has a superstitious way of life. The beginning chapter drew me in as I felt eager to find out who was behind the murders occurring in the settlement.

Ivy is a very naïve character, but she still felt believable. Instead of thinking of her as too stupid to live, I actually could understand why she acted so sheltered. The second characters were interesting too, especially her cousin Heather.

The writing was the strongest aspect of the novel. Beautiful. Atmospheric. I’d love to read more from the author.

The pacing was probably the biggest issue I had. After the excitement of the beginning, everything slowed down dramatically and then sped up again at the end. There seemed to be no middle ground. Also, I love a few twists, but the consistent reveals were a little over the top.

Final thoughts: Good book from an author with lots of potential!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Please Don't Tell by Laura Tims

Joy killed Adam Gordon—at least, that’s what she thinks. The night of the party is hazy at best. But she knows what Adam did to her twin sister, Grace, and she knows he had to pay for it.

What Joy doesn’t expect is that someone else saw what happened. And one night a note is shoved through her open window, threatening Joy that all will be revealed. Now the anonymous blackmailer starts using Joy to expose the secrets of their placid hometown. And as the demands escalate, Joy must somehow uncover the blackmailer’s identity before Joy is forced to make a terrible choice.

In this darkly compelling narrative, debut author Laura Tims explores the complicated relationship between two sisters, and what one will do for the other. It’s a story that will keep readers turning pages and questioning their own sense of right and wrong.

Publication Date: May 24, 2016

This was a YA book that had wonderful crossover appeal. Sometimes when I read YA, I start thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m way too old to be reading this.” However, this wasn’t the case with Please Don’t Tell and I loved the themes the author presented over the course of the story.

Please Don’t Tell is told in alternating points of view, hopping between Joy and Grace. On the surface, Joy is the wild and carefree twin while Grace is the do-gooder, overachiever. But there’s so much going on with the characters beneath the surface. I especially loved Grace’s chapters as she narrates the events that lead up to a character’s death.

There was a lot of darkness in the book and I loved the complexity of the characters. The author made each character three-dimensional, even minor ones. There is a hint of romance in the book, but it was realistically done. All the characters felt so real to me and I rarely find that quality.

The mystery wasn’t the strongest and I figured out the twist early on. However, I still enjoyed how everything came together as past and present collided. The resolution had the same realism as the rest of the novel. Highly recommend this book!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Free Book Alert: The Disappearing Girl Plus Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

The Disappearing Girl is very rarely on sale so don't miss out on picking it up as a freebie! This standalone novel is one of my most beloved by readers and the book I get the most emails about! I won't lie, it's a tough read, especially for anyone has struggled not only with an eating disorder, but any type of body image issue. I've included an excerpt below and I'm hosting a giveaway for a $30 Amazon Gift Card.

Kayla Marlowe is slowly vanishing…

Last year, Kayla’s world imploded. Her beloved father died, leaving her alone with a narcissistic mother who is quick to criticize her daughter’s appearance. During her winter break from college, Kayla’s dangerous obsession with losing weight begins.

Kayla feels like her world changes for the better overnight. Being skinny seems to be the key to the happiness she has desperately been seeking. Her mother and friends shower her with compliments, telling her how fantastic she looks. Kayla is starving, but no one knows it.

Cameron Bennett explodes into Kayla’s life. He’s sexy and kind—he has every quality she has been looking for in a guy. As Cameron grows closer to Kayla and learns of how far she’s willing to go to stay thin, he becomes desperate to save her.

Kayla’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia reach a breaking point and she is forced to confront her body image issues in order to survive. She wonders if Cameron could be the one to help heal her from the pain of her past.

New Adult Contemporary-Ages 17+ due to language and sexual situations.

Amazon UK:

Cameron’s temper was building. I could feel the tension in the air. He was showing restraint when all he probably wanted to do was to scream at me for my irrational behavior. His voice was strained. “Kayla, you’ve been here all day and you haven’t eaten a thing …”
My expression was deadly as we locked gazes. “When the hell did it become everyone’s business whether or not I eat? Last time I checked, it was my body.”
I could tell what he was thinking by the way his features twisted. This wasn’t me. This wasn’t the quiet and meek girl he’d been dating. This girl was bitter and wanted to unleash her rage on those around her.
“Lila called me, Kayla,” Cameron said in a resigned tone. I hadn’t successfully incited his anger. He refused to be pushed away. I could play chicken with him endlessly—he’d still never be the first one to yield.
“Why would my sister call you?”
“She told me she heard you throwing up in the bathroom. She found a stockpile of snacks and thinks you’ve been forcing yourself to get sick for a while now to lose weight…”
“Lila is sixteen years old. She’s a child and has no right to make accusations and go behind my back and call my boyfriend.”
“Kayla, she’s scared. And so am I,” he admitted. “You never want to do anything because you’re tired all the time. You’re constantly canceling our plans because you claim you’re not feeling well …”
“I don’t want to hear this. You and Lila had no right to talk about me behind my back.” I jumped up from the table, knocking over my chair in the process.
“Kayla, you have to start eating better. These habits aren’t healthy,” he insisted. Getting out of his chair, he took careful, measured steps across the room.
“You said Scarlett does crazy diets all the time. It’s not that big of a deal to try different things to lose weight,” I countered.
“That’s not what you’re doing. Your diet has turned into something else entirely,” he said softly.
“Fine! You want me to eat, then I’ll eat.” I shoved past him roughly and headed to his cupboards. Opening one of the cabinets, I blindly grabbed at packages of food. After ripping into a box of cookies, I shoved a handful in my mouth. Crumbs tumbled out of my mouth as I demanded, “Is this what you want? Does it make you happy? Because I’m sure I won’t be hearing from you once I become fat again.”
“Cut it out.”
I removed a box of cereal from his cabinet. I shoveled fistful after fistful of the sugary flakes into my mouth. Rummaging through his other cabinets, I found a half-empty box of doughnuts. I devoured them in quick bites, powder caking over my lips.
“This is fucking crazy, Kayla.” Cameron was planted in the center of the kitchen. I saw the suffering on his face after I polished off a third donut. He appeared unsure if he should stop me since I was actually eating or if he should protest my binging in his presence.
“What, Cameron?” I taunted. “You don’t like to see the fat girl inside of me eat? Or you don’t like the realization that this disgusts you and deep down you’re actually a hypocrite?”
“That’s not it and you know me better than that.” I could hear a quiet rage in his voice. “You need help and you refuse to do anything about it. You’re better than this, Kayla. Your dad would hate to know his death was doing this to you.”
I stopped guzzling down a can of soda at his words. “Don’t you dare bring my father into this.” I darted away from him, heading toward the bathroom. Three feet from the door, Cameron’s strong arms encircled me from behind. “What are you doing?” I cried.
“You’re not going into the bathroom and throwing that food up,” he said fiercely to my back.
I tried to squirm out of his hold, but he only tightened his grip. “You’re the one with the problem,” I said. “Does it make you feel like a big strong man to be able to hold down your one-hundred-and-five-pound girlfriend?”
“I know you probably hate me right now, but I can’t watch you hurt yourself anymore. We’re going to get you help,” he said, clearly agonized.
“Cameron, let me go!” I screamed.
My thoughts were irrational. I couldn’t think of anything else except getting the food out of me. The more seconds that passed, the more time the food would have to digest and be stuck inside me forever.
I swung around and pelted his chests with my fists. “Why are you doing this to me? Can’t you see what kind of pain I’m in? Just let me go to the bathroom. Please!”
“Kayla, please, we can get through this together. Why can’t you see that you’re so fucking beautiful? It wouldn’t matter to me if you were three hundred pounds …” he choked out. His eyes flooded, and I turned my face away in horror. I bucked wildly against him and his hold slipped enough to permit me to free myself from his arms and sprint into the bathroom.
Slamming the door shut and locking it, I desired nothing more than to collapse onto the floor and disappear into oblivion. Instead, I shoved my finger down my throat and vomited. By the time I was finished, my cheeks were soaked with tears. With a sob, I clutched at the edge of the porcelain sink.
How could I leave the sanctity of the bathroom? Once my body had been purged of every last morsel of food, lucidity returned. I’d just screamed at and assaulted the kindest, most honest person in my life. What kind of sane person could deal with my baggage? It was over. I suspected I’d finally pushed Cameron to the point where he’d no longer want anything to do with me.
Cameron’s eyes were red-rimmed when I slunk out of the bathroom ten minutes later. My plan was to leave; to grab my things and disappear wordlessly, an attempt to give him an easy out.
“I’ll just leave …” Docile Kayla was back. My enraged other half fled the scene of the crime, leaving behind tears and recriminations in her wake.  

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Ex Trials on Netgalley

Any Netgalley users out there? You can now request The Ex Trials, my final standalone book in the Falling for Autumn series on the site. For anyone who has read any of the other books in the series, this is Casey's story. Here's the request link: