Jar of Hearts left my heart racing

36645028Jennifer Hillier’s profile on Goodreads.com starts out saying she ‘writes about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things.’  Boy is that correct!  I was recently introduced to Jennifer’s writing through her latest book Jar of Hearts.  What an intense psychological thriller.

Georgina Shaw is living her life as a rising star in a pharmaceutical company where her fiancé works.  But she is soon arrested for a murder, which happened 14 years ago when she was in high school.  Now Georgina is spending time in prison for helping her boyfriend, Calvin, who killed her best friend Angie Wong.  Georgina wanted to call the police but was too much of a scared teenager so she kept quiet.

Now Georgina (Geo) is out of prison and trying to put her life back together.  Calvin is serving three life sentences but escapes from prison.  Now more killings are happening that make the police believe Calvin is a serial killer and fear the killings won’t stop anytime soon.

Part of the book we watch as Geo works hard to survive prison and then works hard to survive living with her father in the old neighborhood.  Someone is not making the transition easy for her.  Then part of the book deals with flashbacks leading up to the fateful night when Angie is murdered.  We also learn how the murder and disappearance of Angie affects the families, community and the nation.

Jennifer has mastered the psychological thriller genre.  She threw things at me that I did not see coming.  She shocked me and surprised me.  She made my pulse race and my breath catch.  If you like psychological thrillers, this is a great one to add to your shelf.

Book Description:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong – one of the most popular girls in school – disappeared without a trace.  Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way.  Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home.  And Kaiser – now a detective with Seattle PD – finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James.  The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer.  But to Geo, he’s something else entirely.  Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love.  Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one.  For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep.  And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows.  Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief?  How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?  Find out in Jennifer Hillier’s Jar of Hearts.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

 

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The Girl I used to Be is a roller coaster of a ride

37563646Lately I have been reading a lot of psychological thrillers.  Each one has been slightly different, but all of them have been heart-pounding reads.  Psychological thrillers tend to stay with me.  I dream about the characters and what is happening to them.  I find this is a genre I have a hard time putting down and getting back to real life and I also have a hard time letting go of the characters for days, sometimes weeks.

In The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen, Gemma Brogman is a real estate agent and her husband, Joe, stays home with their little boy Rory.  Gemma works long hours, seven days a week, not leaving Joe much time to have adult time outside of the house.  One day Gemma shows a nice looking man (David) several apartments as he waits for money from the sale of his house to hit the bank.

A few days later Gemma heads to London for a conference.  She decided to go a day early to have alone time away from her busy schedule and her family.  Instead of taking a bath and going to bed with a book, she decides to eat at the hotel restaurant.  While talking to other real estate agents, she sees her client David across the room.  To avoid an annoying acquaintance, Gemma decides to have dinner with David.

After dinner, they both head to their rooms located on different floors.  While on the elevator, Gemma is super tipsy and stumbles all over.  She doesn’t remember drinking that much so David helps Gemma to her room where he kisses her.  Gemma wakes in the morning with a horrible hangover and doesn’t remember the night after the kiss.

Now back home, Gemma starts to receive weird messages and photos that she doesn’t remember being taken while at the conference about situations she doesn’t remember.  Each photo is more horrible than the next.  Who is blackmailing her? And who is David who she can no longer contact?

Part one of the book moves along smoothly, slowly building the story.  We learn about Gemma and her husband and we meet her co-workers.  We learn that Gemma is not happy that Joe stays home all the time instead of going back to work so she can cut back on her work schedule and spend more time with Rory.  She’s jealous of Joe and how Rory goes to him first instead of her.

We learn that Joe wants to get out more with his friends and have more of an adult life. I think he secretly is jealous of Gemma with her work schedule keeping her away from the home all the time.  But Joe doesn’t seem like he wants to go back to work.  He’s almost a little annoying.  Part two really kicks up the psychological warfare.  We quickly learn who is involved with the blackmail and what is really happening.

Think about riding a roller coaster.  The first hill is super big.  It’s a slow climb to the top, making the riders’ nerves increase on what could be on the other side of the crest of the hill.  That’s part one.  Then think of what happens when you go over the crest of the hill and you pick up speed heading down the hill, hair blowing behind you, stomach dropping and you are probably screaming.  That is part two.

I had a really hard time putting this book down.  It was a good thing I had an ebook copy or I probably would have flipped to the back of the book because I couldn’t read fast enough to find out the who and why.  A good stormy day would have been nice so I could have curled up on the couch and read it in one sitting.  If my friends and family ask for a book recommendation, The Girl I Used to Be will be one of the first books I recommend.  Make sure you block off time because you will want to read The Girl I Used to Be in one sitting.

Book Description:
The acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace returns with a new novel of twisting psychological suspense in which a woman is forced to face down her blackmailer.

Someone’s been sending Gemma compromising photos. Photos she doesn’t remember. She can’t recall much about that night during a work conference–she’d written off her headache the next morning as the result of too much drinking at the hotel bar. But then increasingly disturbing photos start appearing in her email, along with bills and other items she can’t account for. As the blackmailer grows bolder and events start to escalate beyond her control, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage and worries that the truth of what really happened that night must be more twisted than she imagines.

Unable to go to the police for fear that she will lose her family, Gemma resolves to hunt down the blackmailer on her own. But not everyone in Gemma’s life is who they seem, and as she gets closer to the truth, she discovers just how far the shadows from her past can reach.

Until Next Time, enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Who is the woman in cabin 10

28187230The Woman in Cabin 10 is the second Ruth Ware book I have read and I enjoyed both of them.  Laura Blacklock (call her Lo) suffers from extreme anxiety and takes medicine to keep it under control.  Lo works at a travel magazine and for the first time she has been given the assignment to spend a week on a ship for a new super-luxury cruise line. Lo needs this assignment to get the promotion she wants and to put the small travel magazine, Velocity, on the map.

A few days before her departure date, while asleep in her apartment, a strange man breaks in, sending her anxiety to an all-time high.  Then the night before she leaves on assignment, Lo has a huge fight with her boyfriend and leaves with the relationship on shaky ground.

The Aurora has only 10 cabins with a maximum of 20 passengers and will travel around the Norwegian fjords for a week.  The passengers include several reporters including Lo’s ex-boyfriend.  Lo is assigned Cabin 9 at the end of the hallway.  The first night on board, before dinner, Lo borrows a mascara from the woman in Cabin 10.  She looks for Cabin 10 woman at dinner but never spots her.  Later that night she passes out drunk on her bed.  A scream and a splash coming from Cabin 10 soon wake her from a dead sleep.  On the veranda she sees blood on the neighboring balcony.

Lo calls security and quickly learns that the guest who was supposed to be in cabin 10 didn’t make the cruise.  There are no passengers missing, staff is all accounted for and nothing is amiss other than Lo’s report of what she saw.  Is her anxiety medicine mixed with the lack of sleep and the abundance of alcohol playing tricks on her?  She insists she saw something but no one believes her.

This book has a Murder on the Orient Express feel to it along with Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.  It’s a great psychological thriller that takes the reader on such a roller coaster ride I had no clue what was really going on.  Who is the woman in Cabin 10?  Was there ever a woman in Cabin 10 and what is really going on.

Ruth Ware took me on a journey that made my heart pound, made me second guess myself on what is happening and second guess who is doing it. Was it a mind blowing, nothing can top it book? No, was it entertaining, taking the reader away from their lives and taking them on a journey of murder? Yes. So I enjoyed this book, I recommend it and I can’t wait for Ruth’s next story. She can keep entertaining me as long as she wants.

Book Description:
Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Woman in the Window is a great psychological thriller

34848682When I first read the description for The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, it said if you liked Gone Girl you would like this book.  But I think if you liked The Girl on the Train you would like this book.

The main character, Anna Fox, is a child therapist who suffers from agoraphobia and has not left her house for the past ten months.  She spends her days watching old black and white thrillers, on the internet in an agoraphobia group giving advice, drinking lots of wine, taking her meds that are not to be mixed with alcohol and spying on her neighbors.  She knows all about her neighbors and their schedules.

Then a new family moves in across the way and she starts watching them.  She meets the teenage son who comes to visit, and she meets his mom who stops by.  Then she witnesses something horrible take place with the new family.  That is where the story turns into a psychological thriller.

This book has a feel like Hitchcock’s Rear Window.  As Finn slowly reveals what really happened in the house across the way, I found my heart pounding just a little faster.  As you get deeper into the story there is twist after twist after twist with shocks at every turn.  I thought I knew what was going on and then – nope.  Along with the incident at the neighbor’s house, Anna’s life slowly is revealed.  Why doesn’t her husband and daughter live with her anymore?  And why did she turn into an agoraphobia ten months ago?

If you like psychological thrillers, you will enjoy The Woman in the Window.  This is a very quick read, because you will not want to put it down.  Make sure to carve out a good chunk of time where you won’t get distracted because you will not want to put this down.

Book Description:
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-five languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hithcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble, and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious, and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Girl Who Lived is a heart pumping thriller

36412584I enjoy a good thriller.  One that makes my heart pound and my pulse race.  The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson is a good thriller.  A really good thriller.  On her 13th birthday, Faith Winters watches as her older sister Kim is brutally murdered on the porch of their family cabin.  While inside the cabin, are Faith’s father, her best friend and her best friend’s mom, all dead.

After Kim tells Faith to run, Faith hides in the woods with the murderer hunting her down.  Fast forward 10 years with Faith back in her hometown trying to start over.  She has been in and out of mental hospitals, has become an alcoholic and often thinks about killing herself.

On her first night home, after leaving an AA meeting, Faith heads to a bar and downs several shots.  While heading home she is sure the ‘Ratman’ drives by her.  The same man who was sitting in a car by the cabin the night of the murders.  The man she hid from under a log for four hours, the man that no one believes exists.  This starts a crazy hunt by Faith to find the killers and realizing she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Is Faith having hallucinations?  Is the alcohol making her paranoid?  Is she just plain crazy?  No one will believe Faith.

This book took me on a roller coaster of a ride, which kept me up at night trying to figure out who was behind the murders.  Do you think you know who is behind the murders? You might want to rethink your choice.  Pick this book up for a thrilling ride with a lot of f’d up people.

Book Description:
Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Come Sundown is an emotional roller coaster ride

31415529I always associate Nora Roberts with romance trilogies where sisters fall in love, brothers fall in love, best friends fall in love and sometimes all three in the same storyline.  So it always surprises me when I come across one of her books that has romance but also a large element of Criminal Minds.  Come Sundown is one of those books.

The book has two very strong storylines that eventually merge/catch up with each other.  The story starts out with Alice Bodine.  A young girl who left home, not on good terms with her family, the night of her sister’s wedding.  After struggling for a few years, Alice decides to return home but she never makes it there.  Her car breaks down, a guy gives her a ride, but instead of taking her the few miles to her family’s ranch, he kidnaps her.  Her family never knew Alice was headed home so they think she wants nothing to do with them with her disappearance.

The second storyline takes us more than 20 years into the future to Bodine Longbow, a young professional woman who runs the Bodine Ranch and Resort.  She has her hands on everything, which made me wonder how she had time for a personal life let alone getting any sleep.  Then Callen (Cal) Skinner comes back home.  A childhood friend of Bodine and her brothers who is amazing with horses.  He’s soon hired on at the ranch along with his horse and he soon starts a relationship with Bodine.  The same time of Cal’s return, women start turning up dead, which makes a local police officer and childhood enemy of Cal’s, point his finger right at Cal.  He is determined to put Cal in jail.

The Bodine Ranch and Resort is a tightknit team.  Everyone is treated like family whether they are family or just work there.  Roberts does a great job of pulling the reader into the lives of the characters and making you care for all of them.  So when one of them goes missing, everyone hurts.

This is a heart-pounding, terrifying and laugh out loud story that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.  When women start going missing and showing up dead, my heart would race and I kept saying not her.  Like that would make a difference.

This is such a wonderful book.  I could not put it down.  I have already recommended Come Sundown to several friends and family and I recommend it while on vacation or wrapped up in a blanket on the couch on a quiet day.  This one is well worth your time.

Book Description:
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

I Found You has many different meanings

35184176I Found You by Lisa Jewell is a suspenseful thriller featuring three separate stories that slowly merge together.  First we meet Alice Lake, a single mom of three children – Kai, Jasmine and Romaine and their three dogs (Hero, Sadie, and Grif) living in a small house by the shore in Ridinghouse Bay.  Alice sees a man sitting on the beach in the pouring rain not moving for hours.  He has lost his memory, not knowing who he was and why he was sitting there.  Against her best friend Derry’s advice, Alice gives the man a warm coat and brings him inside her house and her daughter Romaine names him Frank.

Then we meet Lily Monrose from Ukraine who has only been back from her honeymoon for 10 days and now lives in London with her husband Carl.  One night Carl doesn’t come home from work, which is out of character for him.  She realizes that she doesn’t completely know her husband.  When she brings in the police, they quickly discover no person with his name exists.

We then head back twenty years to 1993 when the Ross Family (Tony, Pam, Gray and Kirsty) decide to vacation for two weeks in Ridinghouse Bay.  When Gray (17) and Kirsty (15) are out for a walk, Gray notices a guy staring intently at Kirsty.  It makes Gray uncomfortable.  The next day the family is on the beach and the same guy is sitting next to them.  He soon befriends the family and invites them over for tea at the large estate across the way.  Mark Tate (19) is visiting his aunt Kitty who recently lost her husband.  Mark quickly becomes obsessed with Kirsty and he starts to come across as a crazy, evil person.

The narrative switches back and forth between the three storylines slowly weaving back and forth bringing them together at the end.  Throughout the book, you don’t know exactly who the strange man on the beach could be.  Is it Gray or is it Mark.  And who is Lily’s husband?  Is it Gray or is it Mark?  Is the stranger on the beach and Lily’s husband the same person or are they two different people?  Lisa Jewell kept me guessing and kept me second guessing my selections.  I found I could not put this book down.  I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted answers.  This is a great thriller just in time for summertime.

Now that I’ve been done with the book for a few days, I understand the title pertains to several characters of the book.  It also means something different for each of the characters.

Book Description:
A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat