Review: The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Published by Crown Publishing Group on January 9, 2018 (expected)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense
Format & Pages: paperback, 280
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The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

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Review: One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published by Random House Children’s Books on May 30, 2017
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 288
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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.

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Review: The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Published by Penguin Audio on August 23, 2016 (first published July 14, 2016)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, crime, mystery, suspense, thriller
Format & Pages: audiobook
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How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even—yourself?  

People are capable of almost anything. . . 

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

“Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp.  THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page.”—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fool Me Once

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

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Review: A Murder for the Books, by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books, by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert
Published by Crooked Lane Books on December 12, 2017 (expected)
Series: Blue Ridge Library Mysteries, #1
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, romance
Format & Pages: e-book, 336
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Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families… including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

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November Reading Recap

November Reading Recap

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this from the US! I hope you had a wonderful day of food, family, and friends and a great first weekend of the Christmas season. This is officially my favorite season of the year, so please allow me this excitement – my husband and I put up our Christmas tree, village, and outside lights this weekend and it just makes me SO happy!!!

Ahem. Onto the books.

November was a really good month of books and reading for me! I stayed on track with everything I planned on reading even amidst the planning, cooking, and cleaning involved in hosting a Thanksgiving meal and all the Christmas decorating. With two books I rated a five out of five coffee mugs (The Wife Between Us and a re-read of Murder on the Orient Express), and each of them with a rating of at least a three, it’s fair to say I enjoyed all of these books!

So let’s see the list now, shall we?

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Review: The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Published by Little, Brown and Company on November 8, 2016
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, action, romance, thriller
Format & Pages: hardcover, 521
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In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Stephenie Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

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Review: Force of Nature, by Jane Harper

Force of Nature, by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Published by Flatiron Books on February 6, 2018 (expected)
Series: Aaron Falk, #2
Genre(s): fiction, crime, mystery, suspense
Format & Pages: paperback, 329
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Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

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Book vs. Movie: Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Published by Harper Collins on November 1991 (first published 1934)
Series: Hercule Poirot, #10
Genre(s): fiction, classics, crime, mystery, suspense
Format & Pages: paperback, 256
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“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

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Review: The Vanishing Season, by Joanna Schaffhausen

The Vanishing Season, by Joanna Schaffhausen

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
Published by Minotaur Books on December 5, 2017 (expected)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, crime, mystery, suspense, thriller
Format & Pages: e-book, 288
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Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She’s an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only victim who lived.

When three people disappear from her town in three years, all around her birthday—the day she was kidnapped so long ago—Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer’s closet all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he’s washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them…with a killer who can’t let go.

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Review: Pacific Fire, by Greg Van Eekhout

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Pacific Fire by Greg Van Eekhout
Published by Tor Books on January 27, 2015
Series: Daniel Blackland, #2
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, dystopia, fantasy, young adult
Format & Pages: hardcover, 336
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Pacific Fire: Another thrilling ride through Greg van Eekhout’s wildly imaginative world of California Bones, featuring entertaining new characters and a dangerous magical plot unfolding in Los Angeles.

I’m Sam. I’m just this guy.

Okay, yeah, I’m a golem created from the substance of his own magic by the late Hierarch of Southern California. With a lot of work, I might be able to wield magic myself. I kind of doubt it, though. Not like Daniel Blackland can.

Daniel’s the reason the Hierarch’s gone and I’m still alive. He’s also the reason I’ve lived my entire life on the run. Ten years of never, ever going back to Los Angeles. Daniel’s determined to protect me. To teach me.

But it gets old. I’ve got nobody but Daniel. I’ll never do anything normal. Like attend school. Or date a girl.

Now it’s worse. Because things are happening back in LA. Very bad people are building a Pacific firedrake, a kind of ultimate weapon of mass magical destruction. Daniel seemed to think only he could stop them. Now Daniel’s been hurt. I managed to get us to the place run by the Emmas. (Many of them. All named Emma. It’s a long story.) They seem to be healing him, but he isn’t going anyplace soon.

Do I even have a reason for existing, if it isn’t to prevent this firedrake from happening? I’m good at escaping from things. Now I’ve escaped from Daniel and the Emmas, and I’m on my way to LA.

This may be the worst idea I ever had.

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