Monday, September 28, 2020

The Nesting by C. J. Cooke

 Release Date - September 29, 2020

Following a suicide attempt, Lexi Ellis isn't sure what to do next. Her relationship is over. She needs a place to stay, a job, and a new start. When she overhears a woman and her friend discussing a live-in nanny position in Norway, Lexi listens in. The woman doesn't want the job, so Lexi snaps a picture of the woman's CV and job inquiry and poses as that woman. She never expects to land the job, but that's exactly what happens.

Tom Faraday is an architect who is working on his late wife's dream cliffside home. She died tragically, but he can't let her dream end. He needs a nanny to help their daughters, and Lexi seems like the perfect fit. After all, Lexi finds herself enamored by the two young girls and a mother figure is exactly what the little girls need. 

It doesn't take long before Lexi realizes there is a serious problem. Young Gaia keeps seeing a "sad lady" haunting the home. Lexi finds muddy footprints inside the home. Even Tom acts weird when he tells her not to go into parts of the home. She starts to wonder if the girls' mom killed herself or if there's something far more dangerous going on.

Usually, The Nesting is exactly the kind of book I'd look forward to. It's a dark, creepy, Gothic-style thriller with a delightfully chilling setting. Yet, as much as I wanted to love it, I struggled to get into it. I liked Lexi's character. The girls were also appealing with their innocence and honesty. Yet, the story took longer than I needed for it to really get started. I grew tired and found it too easy to skim rather than read. 

It had a tempting plot, but in the end, the descriptive nature and slow build did me in.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

 Release Date - September 15, 2020

The past five years have been rough on Molly Clarke. When her daughter ran out in front of her car, she did everything she could to stop in time. Since that day, there's been a lot of blame. No one can blame Molly more for her daughter's death than she does. Her oldest daughter hates her, her son won't talk to her, and she's pretty sure her husband is having an affair. If she walked away, she knows none of them would miss her.

Her chance arrives when she runs out of gas just shy of Hastings, Connecticut. It's her chance to abandon her car, walk away, and never look back. There's a major storm hitting the town, which means she has time to get away before anyone will notice.

When Molly's car is found abandoned, her family is called. They head to Hastings to search for her, but all that remains is a note telling them not to look for her. Her daughter isn't convinced. Weeks later, a phone call draws Nic back to Hastings to see if this potential witness is lying or really did see her mom get into someone's truck before she disappeared.

Don't Look for Me shifts back and forth between Nic and her mom. Readers know where Molly ends up from the beginning, but the thriller keeps you on your toes. Every page has you riveted to Molly's story and Nic's investigative work right up to the explosive ending.

It's been a while since I've found myself hooked and having to read a book in one sitting. Wendy Walker's latest was that book! Hopefully, this will bring me out of the rut I'd found myself in.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine

 Release Date - September 1, 2020

Winter is here to stay. Because spring never arrived in the Appalachians in Ohio, 19-year-old Wylodine has been running her family's marijuana farm single-handedly since her mother and her mother's boyfriend left for California. It's hard work, but Wyl's been taught well and is good at what she does. When winter never turns into spring for a year and then continues into a second, Wyl realizes it's time to follow them with what's left of their thriving farm. Her friend left long ago and the town is quickly becoming a ghost town. 

She takes seeds, her grow lights, and whatever else she needs and gets ready to set off. She ends up with a teen boy who's close to her age. They pick up a second guy their age and end up running into every obstacle they could possibly face. If they make it to California alive, it's going to take some incredible wisdom, strength, and determination.

As a teen, I loved Stephen King's The Stand. That and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart are books I've ready time and time again. Post-apocalyptic fiction is a passion of mine. I expected to love Road Out of Winter for that reason, but I never felt the same level of engagement with the characters. Some I found too predictable, while others didn't seem to have the hindsight they should have gained as winter continued.

The writing and descriptions are exceptional. If you can't feel the biting cold while reading about Wyl's experiences, I'd be surprised. The plot moved slowly. My biggest issue comes down to the ending. I can't give spoilers though. The bottom line is that after a slow moving plot, the final portion of the book seems so rushed that I felt cheated.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

One Step Behind by Lauren North

 Release Date - September 1, 2020

Jenna is a busy doctor in an ER department. She sees many patients during a shift before returning home to her husband and children. Something more concerning has her attention lately. She has a stalker.

Her stalker is leaving her creepy gifts and sending ominous emails. Police are not turning up anything. When her stalker enters her home to leave her a gift, Jenna become even more frightened. 

Soon, the same stalker she's seen taking photos of her and her family is brought into the ER. She has the power to save his life or end it. As a doctor she knows she has to save his life, but the photos she finds on his phone solidify her need to get answers as to who he is and why he's so obsessed.

One Step Behind has a strong creep factor. I think my one complaint is that I figured out who the stalker was pretty early on. I also nailed another part of the story that was meant to be a big surprise, but I thought it was predictable.

I usually hate figuring things out early, but it didn't bother me this time. I was so intrigued by the mystery as to the stalker's goal that I was hooked.

The Child Who Never Was by Jane Renshaw

 Release Date - August 16, 2020

When her toddler disappears from his crib, Sarah's frantic and hopes he's with her sister. However, her sister's house is dark and there's no sign of Evie or young Oliver. Things go from bad to worse when Sarah's doctor denies that she even has a son. She's placed into a mental health facility to get the help she needs. Sarah's own sister tells her that "Oliver" doesn't exist. Evie has the toddler and his name is James.

This isn't Sarah's first experience with mental illness. She suffered severe trauma as a child and deals with several issues, including severe agoraphobia. Despite this, she's convinced that she had a child and desperately wants to find the proof that Oliver/James is her son and that her sister stole him.

I have to say that this book is packed with twists. The Child Who Never Was keeps spiraling towards a rather surprising conclusion and all the way there is the constant tug of war of thoughts. Is Sarah declining? Is Evie lying? Who is Oliver/James really? If it is all a ruse, how did Evie pull it off? If it's not, how is Evie going to stop her sister as she becomes more cunning in her quest to get her child back?

I enjoyed the mystery and suspense and would put this on your reading list.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...