“Behind the red door” Megan Collins

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. ebook. Atria Books. To be published August 4, 2020.

Behind the red doorFern loves her daddy even though he was always distracted with his work. His research dealt with the effects of fear, and she was always part of his Experiments where he terrorized her for years in many ways then interviewed her about her feelings. Though she had always been truly afraid during the Experiments, his care during the follow up interviews made her feel important and loved. As she grew older the years she’d spent being tormented caused her to become anxious and develop nervous habits, but it never diminished her love for him.

When Ted called to ask for help packing for an upcoming move, Fern was thrilled because she believed he needed her. Once she arrived they took a trip to town where she picked up a book about a local woman who was kidnapped 20 years ago and was missing again. As reading about the kidnapping tugged at memories she’d long kept hidden, these remembrances began to turn her life upside down.

This book really bothered me. I can’t reveal what happened, but I can say I was not happy at how that particular situation ended. I also couldn’t understand how, as an educated Social Worker, she was so ignorant about her own father. I liked the suspense, and how she gave Fern a wonderfully loving and supportive husband.

I gave it 3 stars for its twists and turns, and will recommend it to Adults.

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

“Dead to you” Lisa McMann

Rated 2 stars ** Simon Pulse. 2012. 243 p.

Dead to youEthan was seven when he was kidnapped, and is reunited with his family nine years later. At first things are strange between him, his parents, younger brother Blake, and little sister Gracie. He’s upset he can’t remember old family photos, relatives or neighbors, but is sure his memories will resurface. Ethan also has to deal with Blake’s jealousy and increasing anger at his presence. After a few months things start to settle, but a ringing doorbell forever changes life for Ethan.

I absolutely DESPISED the ending, and thought it was a complete copout on the author’s part. Why couldn’t she have given a real ending instead of those final three words? I feel like she sold Ethan out, as well as her readers. I was definitely not a happy camper, and took off one star because of the very bad ending.

Though I was EXTREMELY upset with the way the book ended, I will leave it up to you readers, ages 14 and older, to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

“Taken” by Norah McClintock

Rated 4 stars **** Orca Book Publishers. 2009. 165 p.

TakenStephanie’s father was killed in a car accident, and she hates that her mother found a boyfriend just a few months after the accident. She hates the new boyfriend, feeling as if he’s mooching off her mom. A serial killer kidnapped two girls who look very similar to her in nearby towns, but she’s sure her town is safe. So, late one evening she declines her best friend’s advice to accompany her home, and sets out on her own. While taking a shortcut across a dark, abandoned field she’s attacked.

When Stephanie wakes she finds herself tied up in an abandoned cabin. She manages to get herself free and sets off into the woods that surround the cabin, desperate to put distance between herself and the serial killer who’d kidnapped her. With no food, water or shelter readily available she dredges up every bit of survival advice she’d learned from her grandfather on past hiking and camping trips. The days pass with no hope of rescue, and Stephanie’s situation is worsened when she steps into a hole and severely twists her ankle.

I liked reading about the things Stephanie learned about survival from her grandfather, and it seemed as if she was an exceptional learner. I also thought the ending was predictable and it felt rushed. Though it felt like I already knew how the story would play out before I even got to the end, I’ll recommend it for reluctant teen readers because it’s interesting and is a quick read.

Recommended for teens ages 13-16, especially reluctant readers.

“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.

 

 

“Jimmy” by William Malmborg

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. 2011. Darker Dreams Media.

JimmyThis extremely dark, twisted tale of a high school senior who kidnaps two teenage girls to satisfy his sexual bondage desires was very upsetting to me because it was too scarily realistic. All the clues that seemed to point to Jimmy doing something strange in his spare time went unnoticed, as no one suspected him because he was just so normal. This is what makes all the evil he got away with so upsetting to me.

I hope anyone reading this book won’t get any ideas of doing what Jimmy did, and I also hope if anyone suspects someone of similar actions that they’ll say something to someone in authority before it’s too late. I feel as troubled after reading this book as I felt when I finished watching the movie “The silence of the lambs.” I was very troubled after that movie and couldn’t sleep for a few hours. It’s now 12:42 a.m., and I have the feeling I’ll be up for a very long time tonight contemplating the evil in men’s souls after reading “Jimmy.” Thanks a lot Mr. Malmboorg!

I’m not a fan of horror books, especially ones I read at night, but the fact that this one was so realistic was what upset me the most. My heart cries out for the young ladies kidnapped by Jimmy, and for what they endured.

Recommended for mature teens ages 17 and older.

“How quickly she disappears” by Raymond Fleischmann

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. ebook. To be published January 14, 2020. Berkley (Penguin Random House)

How quickly she disappearsIn 1921 Elizabeth’s twin sister Jacqueline disappeared without a trace when they were just eleven years old. Twenty years later Elizabeth lives with her husband and daughter in a small Alaskan town, still believing her sister is alive. When a stranger flew his bush plane in to deliver the mail he introduced himself as Alfred Seidel, a fellow German. He invited himself over to stay in her house, and Elizabeth felt obligated to take him in.

Alfred insisted he needed to stay in town longer to do repairs on his plane but, instead, killed a local Indian who was Elizabeth’s best friend. After being captured he insisted on speaking only to Elizabeth. When he told her he was involved in her sister’s disappearance she’s sure he’d lead her to Jacqueline – even though he claimed he would only give her a little bit of information at a time

As their relationship grows more intense, and in between flashbacks of growing up with Jacqueline, Elizabeth reveals her fascination and hatred for Alfred. He insisted she must complete three favors for information about her sister but, desperate to do whatever he wants, Elizabeth doesn’t know Alfred has many more secrets he’s not revealing.

The suspense kept me eagerly turning pages to find out what happens, but I was not happy with the ending. I thought it should have had loose ends tied up, instead of leaving everything to the reader’s imaginations, so I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

Recommended for Adults.