Wednesday, January 27, 2016

After the Crash

Michael Bussi

A night flight from Istanbul bound for Paris, filled with 169 holiday travelers, plummets into the Swiss Alps. The sole survivor is a three-month-old girl--thrown from the plane onto the snowy mountainside before fire rages through the aircraft. But two infants were on board. Is the miracle baby Lyse-Rose or Emilie? Both families step forward to claim the child--one poor, one powerful, wealthy, and dangerous.

Filled with delicious twists and riveting psychological suspense, After the Crash is an electrifying story of a two-decade mystery, secret love, and murder--perfect for the readers who swarmed to Stieg Larsson, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

A plane crash on a snowy mountain top. The only survivor is a 3 month old baby girl. There were two young couples on bored, both with baby girls. When two different grandparents show up to claim the baby, a decision has to be made as to who will get her. That decision is made by a local court. The question is - did they make the right one?

At the beginning of this story, we meet Lylie, the now 18 yr old survivor of the plane crash. She has received some alarming information via a notebook given to her by a private detective hired by her wealthy, could have been grandmother. The news is so disturbing, that Lylie runs away, but not before giving the notebook to her brother, Marc. The rest of the story involves Marc reading the notebook and trying to track down Lylie before she does something dangerous.

Whew - this was a page turner. I liked the format - some chapters revolved around the private detectives research on who Lylie really was, and the other chapters focused on Marc and what he discovers as he tries to find Lylie. Piece by piece, the author drops little clues of all that had transpired since that crash 18 years ago. There were some pretty good plot twists and the author saved the biggest surprise for the end. Well done!

I’d like to thank Hachette Books for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion.
Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.
Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Elise and Matt have gone to the Hamptons to sit with Elise’s terminally ill dad, Victor.  While Scott stays back at his father-in-laws house, he notices strange things going on in the house next door.  With nothing but time to kill, he decides to go check it out.  What he finds starts a whole downward spiral for everyone involved.

There is no way to sugar coat that the characters in this story are pretty screwed up.  Matt on his own probably not so much, but because he follows his wife’s lead, he ends up doing some pretty twisted thing.  Elise?  Elise is one hot mess.  Initially, she hides it pretty well, but by the end of the story, we’ve met the real Elise and it’s not pretty.  Don’t even get me started on Victor!

This story starts out slow, but as each secret is reveled, the suspense really builds.  I’ll admit that the characters did some pretty bizarre things that I often found unbelievable.  But then I just tell myself - hey, it’s a book, just go with it!  There were plenty of twists that kept me reading and the author saved the biggest one for the end.

I’d like to read more from this author.

Thanks to Doubleday, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Desperate Fortune
Susanna Kearsley
For nearly three hundred years, the cryptic journal of Mary Dundas has kept its secrets. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas travels to Paris to crack the cipher.
Jacobite exile Mary Dundas is filled with longing-for freedom, for adventure, for the family she lost. When fate opens the door, Mary dares to set her foot on a path far more surprising and dangerous than she ever could have dreamed.

As Mary's gripping tale of rebellion and betrayal is revealed to her, Sara faces events in her own life that require letting go of everything she thought she knew-about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women are united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the unlikely coincidences of fate.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Sara is hired to decipher a journal that is almost three hundred years old.  The journal was written by a young woman named Mary Dundas.  Mary lived in treacherous times and wrote her diary in a secret code.  Told in alternating voices, we get to see how both Sara and Mary stepped out of their comfort zones to create new lives for themselves.

About two-thirds of the way through this book, I started telling people how good it was.  In the back of my mind I kept thinking - boy, I sure hope this doesn’t bomb in the end.  I’ve had that happen with other books and on a few occasions, it has ruined the whole story.

I call this a quiet novel.  While it certainly held my interests, it was not an action packed thriller.  I was surprised that it actually turned out to be a love story.  I really like the way the author developed her characters.  While I quite liked Sara’s story, it was really drawn to Mary.  Both women are a bit out of their elements and work really hard to adapt to their new lives.

Honestly, I thought the story was lovely.  And oh - by the way - the ending?  It was beautiful.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmarks, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Guest Room

Chris Bohjalian

When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law's for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother's friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard's life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Richard agrees to host his young brother’s bachelor party. He knows there will be strippers and admits up front that something other than just stripping might take place. While not comfortable with this, he decides to go along with it because - hey - what could go wrong? Unfortunately for Richard, the answer to that question is A LOT and none of it good. As we find out later, the girls are not simple strippers, but sex slaves. One of them decides to kill their Russian handlers at the party and this is the beginning of the end for Richard.

This story takes off running from the beginning and doesn’t stop until the very end. The author lets us inside Richard head as he tries to come to grips with what happened and we see his desperation as his good life slowly unravels. In alternate chapters, we also learn the story of one of the young girls and the circumstances that lead her to being a sex slave.

This story is a true testimony to how life can turn on a dime. I think more importantly was the story behind sex trafficking - how young girls can end up in this kind of life. I thought this was a good mix of action and suspense, while bringing attention to a topic not many of us know anything about.

My thanks to Doubleday, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this is exchange for an unbiased review.