“Little Cruelties” Liz Nugent

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. ebook. Simon & Schuster. To be published November 10, 2020.

Little CrueltiesA selfish mother, interested only in her singing career, raised Will, Brian and Luke. The oldest son Will was her favorite, Brian was tolerated and Luke, her youngest, was openly disliked. Their father showed them all love, but she pitted them against each other for crumbs of her affection. With their mother constantly egging them on, the brothers became competitive and hateful towards each other.

Now grown, the brothers continued the cruelty towards each other they’d learned from their mother. Will had become a successful filmmaker and womanizer, Brian was jealous of his brother’s successes, while Luke turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort even though he was a successful pop singer. As a result of their jealousy and competitiveness, one brother is killed. They learned their lessons well from Mommy Dearest, but who was her star pupil?

All the brothers take turns recalling important memories from their lives, going back and forth in time. I found the back and forth between the years to be very distracting as their memories would have been easier to follow if they had been sequential.

Though I wasn’t really a fan of this book I gave it 3 stars because it’s a good lesson on how NOT to train up your child. Readers be warned.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

“You were never here” Kathleen Peacock

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. HarperTeen (HarperCollins). To be published October 20, 2020.

You were never hereSeventeen-year-old Cat Montgomery got into trouble in New York, which cost her a friend, her phone, her laptop and her freedom. Her angry father shipped her to Montgomery Falls Canada, where she was expected to spend the summer with her aunt at her boarding house.

Cat hadn’t been there in 5 years and was surprised to learn that Riley, her best friend and neighbor, had been missing for months. She doesn’t want to get involved in finding him but, when she finds a body, gives in to his grieving brother’s wish to use her family legacy to search for clues. What she finds out is worse than she’d ever imagined.

I was sucked in – hook, line and sinker. As I followed clues with Cat I thought I had a pretty good idea of the guilty party, but was SHOCKED to be proven wrong. Kathleen Peacock was very devious. Very devious indeed.

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The companion” Katie Alender

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House). To be published August 25, 2020.

The CompanionMargot was the only survivor after her parents and sisters were in a car crash and drowned. Sent to live in an orphanage, she was taken in by a rich family to be a companion for their daughter Agatha. At the estate daily nightmares of her family’s watery death subsided, as Agatha’s mother Laura was very kind. But things began to change when Margot found an old diary of Laura’s younger sister who had died years ago. By the time she began to put two and two together, time was up before she could get to four.

This was very creepy, so make sure not to read it at night or you’ll have the same nightmares as Margot. Alender was very clever as she lured readers along on her sinister plot, making us totally despair for Margot and Agatha. Well-done Ms. Alender. Very well done.

PS – not sure why the cover has a spoon with pins in it. I can think of lots of different types of covers to describe this book, but a spoon with pins would not be one of them.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Eventide” Sarah Goodman

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Tor Teen. To be published October 6, 2020.

EventideIn 1907 seventeen-year-old Verity and her little sister Lilah set out from New York City on an orphan train to find a new home. Verity was bitter because she hadn’t been allowed to care for her sister. She was almost eighteen, and had taken care of her ever since their mother died and their father started to go insane. However, she was still underage, so they had been forced to go to an orphanage when their father was taken to an asylum.

When they arrived in the small town of Wheeling Arkansas Miss Maeve, the local schoolteacher, adopted Lilah. Desperate to stay near her sister Verity allowed herself to be indentured to a couple that needed help on their farm. As she struggled through her chores, the thought of being able to leave forever with Lilah in a few months enabled her to get through the days in this little, superstitious town.

Verity couldn’t understand why everyone was afraid of the woods, and why she’d been warned to stay away from it. When she decided to explore it for herself she couldn’t understand why it suddenly became freezing cold and foggy, nor could she explain the presence of a little girl who disappeared when Verity tried to follow her. As Verity learned more about the people in the small town she began to realize that Lilah was in grave danger. Verity will do anything she can to protect her sister – even if it means giving up everything she once held dear.

I loved this book! It was suspenseful, spooky, thrilling and kept me up turning pages until late at night. I did have some questions about the ending that I would love to ask the author but, because they might reveal spoilers, I can’t ask them on this blog. However, I would love it if Sarah Goodman contacted me on the “down low” so I can unburden myself and get the answers I seek.

Despite my questions I highly recommend “Eventide” for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Mockingjay” Suzanne Collins

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2010. Scholastic Press. The Hunger Games #3.

MockingjayAfter being rescued from the arena by rebels from District 13 Katniss feels unmoored because they were unable to rescue Peeta. She is sure President Snow is torturing him for information. With fighting going on in every district, the rebels need to unite if they want to attack the Capitol, so they need Katniss to be the voice of the rebellion – their Mockingjay. Reluctantly Katniss accepts the role, but her mind and heart are constantly on Peeta. Though she’s not sure about her feelings for him, she does know that she wants him back. She also wants revenge against Snow, and is determined to do whatever it takes to make him pay.

This third book of the Hunger Games series was filled with action and adventure before it reached its satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Ghosts of Harvard” Francesca Serritella

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. ebook. Random House. To be published May 5, 2020.

Ghosts of HarvardSeventeen-year-old Cady is determined to attend Harvard because it was where her older brother Eric committed suicide. Since she blames herself, she is determined to figure out why he killed himself.¬† While at school her studies take a back burner to the nagging questions that arise about Eric’s schizophrenia.

As memories of good and bad times with Eric fill her mind, Cady begins to hear voices and music from a bygone era. Afraid she is heading towards the same path of mental illness, she has a small measure of relief when she figures out the voices are the ghosts of a former Harvard slave and two students who attended the school many years ago.

She enjoys having them as company, learning historical aspects about the school that she’d never known. However, as she uncovers more about Eric’s last days, she soon figures out he was hiding something. When his secret is finally revealed, her life is forever changed in even more ways than she’d thought possible.

I enjoyed the historical aspect of “Ghosts of Harvard,” especially since I once worked on campus, and didn’t know about many of the hidden gems revealed in the book. I now want to travel back to Massachusetts to take a leisurely stroll and go to the places mentioned in the book. The storyline about Eric, his secret, and the ghosts seemed a bit farfetched, but the troubling aspects of suicide, mental illness and its weight on families were truthfully articulated.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“All of us” A.F. Carter

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. ebook. Mysterious Press. To be published June 2, 2020.

All of usCarolyn Grand’s father was a monster. For years he abused her physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally. When she was finally put into foster care, her foster parents continued the sexual abuse. For years Carolyn’s body was not her own, forcing her mind to find a way to protect itself. The end result was that Carolyn’s mind split her into different people. Each of her personalities had their own unique way of dressing, talking, and acting to help her get through particular situations.

The comfortable life Carolyn and her personalities built for themselves for ten years began to unravel when Eleni, the promiscuous one, propositioned a cop. Now they had to attend mandated counseling sessions with a therapist who had no interest in helping them. Then Carolyn’s father was released from prison and, though ordered to stay away, he began stalking them. When he showed up dead, Carolyn became the prime suspect, and only a friendly detective keeps them from total despair.

Told through the voices of Carolyn’s six personalities (Eleni, Martha, Victoria, Tina, Kirk and Serena) readers are given flashbacks of what Carolyn endured at the hands of her father. We see the inner workings of a splintered mind that found a way to survive horrible abuse. As the narrative continues, and no one admits to the murder, this whodunit keeps you wondering.

Recommended for Adults.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

“Only love can break your heart” by Ed Tarkington

Rated 3 stars *** Algonquin Books. 2016. 307 p.

Only love can break your heartSet in a small Virginia town in 1977¬†Richard, called Rocky by his beloved sixteen-year-old big brother Paul, was almost eight years old. Paul was everything Rocky wished he could be – though he was always in trouble, and not a favorite of his mom. He was a girl charmer, and owned a great collection of records he often invited Rocky to hear in his room. Paul was always there until, one day, he wasn’t. He disappeared with Leigh, his long-time girlfriend.

Rocky missed his brother, but was distracted by his neighbor’s daughter Patricia who he met when he was almost 15 years old. Though she was almost 10 years older, for several months she schooled him in the art of sex in the hayloft of her family’s stable. Rocky was content to spend time with her, and was bereft when she broke up with him after Leigh returned and figured out their relationship.

Many years later Paul returned. Leigh’s time away had badly scarred her, leaving her mentally unstable, for which Paul blamed himself. Though Rocky and the Old Man were thrilled to have him back, Richard’s mom felt he was still the bane of her existence. When their next-door neighbor and wife were found murdered, Paul and Leigh quickly became the main suspects. Were the police overlooking the real killers in their eagerness to solve the crime, or was it true that Rocky’s idol and his girlfriend were murderers?

Rocky, as narrator, told his story as an adult sharing his memories. Though there was lots of rambling as he described his feelings and thoughts during the various events that transpired over the years, what I got out of it was that small town life in the late 70’s meant no one suspected what Patricia was doing to him, that an older father loved both his sons equally, that Rocky’s mom needed to get over herself for disliking her stepson so much, and that Rocky and Paul loved each other very much. That’s what I got out of it, and I’m sticking to it.

Though I wasn’t a huge fan, I’ll leave it up to you Adults to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

 

“I am watching you” by Teresa Driscoll

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. Thomas & Mercer. 2017.

I am watching youSixteen-year-old Anna Ballard and her best friend Sarah were at a party when Anna wanted to leave. She was very drunk, but Sarah had her eye on a guy and didn’t want to leave. Anna decided to go outside to find a taxi, and was never heard from again.

As the police do everything they can to investigate her disappearance, those who had some involvement with Anna tell their stories in alternating chapters. Ella saw Anna and Sarah on a train hanging out with two men who’d just gotten released from prison. Could they have had something to do with Anna’s disappearance? Maybe one of them is sending her threatening postcards.

Sarah feels guilty over what happened the last time she saw Anna, but doesn’t dare tell the police about what happened before the party. Anna’s father is heartbroken over her disappearance, and keeps repeating her last words to him “you disgust me dad.” Will he ever get the chance to make it up to her?

With each chapter readers gain clues into what may have led to Anna’s disappearance, but the shocking conclusion telling us what really happened came as a huge surprise. It was such a surprise that I immediately began rereading the book to find out what I had missed. It was just as good, and still just as shocking, the second time around.

Highly recommended for Adults.

 

 

“Trinity” by Luke Romyn

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. Published by Luke Romyn. 2016.

TrinityChance Ripley can’t recall anything about his past, but dreams about women in the act of being murdered. In his dreams he becomes the women, feeling their pain and seeing their killers, but is unable to stop the crimes. The dreams are extremely realistic but, because he’s a patient in a mental institution, his doctor is convinced he’s psychotic – until he names a victim who really was murdered, which gets a member of the FBI involved in the case.

As the episodes continue they leave Chance straddling the line between reality and fantasy, teetering on the edge of total insanity.¬† He knows he has to find out why he’s having these visions and suss out the identity of the three murderers before he truly goes insane, but how is he supposed to escape a mental institution for the criminally insane? In time Chance discovers shocking information that will turn his world upside down.

The author had a very good imagination to come up with a storyline about murderers with psychic abilities and their impact on those with similar abilities. Though I wasn’t a fan of the ending, and thought Chance’s constant flitting about was a little too much, I will still recommend this book for its originality.

Recommended for Adults.