Tag: thriller

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Posted November 11, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Narrator: Kirsten Potter, Brittany Pressley
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Horror, Gothic, Thriller
Pages: 327
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

I recently had a Zoom call with some book friends and Wendy the Super Librarian recommended this novel. It had been in my TBR pile for awhile, but I moved it to the top. I usually enjoy novels by St. James, but this one was of the better ones I’ve read in awhile. The creepiness of the motel, the alternating story-lines and the mystery of what happened in the 1980s was gripping.

When Carly’s mom dies of cancer, she learns of an aunt she never knew existed..one who disappeared in the 1980s that no one ever talks about. Determined to connect with her family history, she travels to Fell, New York, to see if she can uncover what happened.

In 1982, Viv Delaney hitchhiked to Fell, New York and took a job as a night clerk at The Sun Down Motel. She expected it to be a stop-over point on her way to New York to pursue a career in acting. But strange things are happening in Fell, New York, and creepy things go on at night at The Sun Down. It isn’t long before Viv is wrapped up in the mystery of several local missing or murdered women.

The story alternates between Carly in the present and Viv in the 1980s. Carly is trying to figure out what happened to her aunt, and we’re given small pieces of the puzzle from Viv’s point of view in the 80s. I really enjoyed the two narrators and how the story was woven between the two time periods. I figured out pretty early on where things were headed, but I still enjoyed watching the story unfold.

I was slightly disappointed in the end, but I’d still definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a creepy, Gothic mystery.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The One by John Marrs

Posted August 19, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The One by John MarrsReviewer: Tracy
The One by John Marrs
Publisher: Hanover Square
Publication Date: February 20, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third person
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Pages: 412
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four-stars

How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Match Your DNA is a scientifically proven way to find the one person in the world that you are genetically coded to love.  When you meet that person it’s like fireworks going on inside your body and you just can’t imagine living without that person.  Sometimes it takes a couple of days to kick in, but it always happens.  There has never been a mismatch and the company prides themselves on that fact. Unfortunately while billions had found their DNA match, there have been many broken relationships when people find their perfect match.

This book follows 5 different people who have gotten their perfect match.

First we have Mandy, a 37 year old divorcee who has been matched with Richard a man who’s about 10 years younger than her.   Mandy is a romantic and can’t wait to hear from Richard.  She’s old-fashioned and wants the man to contact her.  After weeks go by and she’s not heard from him she finally sends him an email, but she gets no response.  When she finally hears something, details come to light that change her mind about what love is and what her future is going to look like.  It’s utterly different than anything she could have imagined.

Next up we have Christopher.  Christopher is a psychopath and a serial killer.  Christopher meets his match with Amy, a police officer. Christopher is in the middle of a killing spree, but is finally meeting his perfect match changing him for the better?

Twenty-something Jade has met Kevin, but unfortunately, she lives in England and he lives in Australia.  She has an average paying job and credit card debt so she can’t just jump on a plane and meet him.  They’ve been texting and talking on the phone for seven months but they’ve never been on FaceTime or Skype.  When Jade decides to take a leap of faith and surprise Kevin by showing up in Australia, Jade finds out that lies have been told – big ones.  Does she stay and make the best of things?  Does she leave and lose her perfect “one?” What does she do when she finds herself in love?

Nick is 25 and engaged to Sally, but Sally thinks it would be great if they do the DNA matching anyway, just to prove that they’re truly perfect for each other. Nick insists that he will be with Sally no matter what, but when they open their emails, they find that Sally’s results show no match. Nick’s results, however, show he’s matched to a guy named Alexander.  What?  Nick’s not gay – not even bi!  He wants no part of the results, but Sally insists that he meets the guy to see if there’s any “spark.”  How will the DNA match end up changing Nick and Sally’s lives, or does anything change at all?

Ellie is the scientist who discovered the gene that became Match Your DNA.  She put her own DNA into the system 10 years earlier so she’s shocked when she receives an email saying that she was matched with someone.  She meets Tim and while he’s so different from her, she falls in love with him anyway. While Ellie isn’t completely truthful (at first) to Tim about who she is and what she does, is Tim being truthful to Ellie about who he is?

When I first started reading this book and every chapter was another person I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue.  Did I want to use my brainpower to keep track of all of these characters?  Lol  In the end, yes, I did.  The book kind of sucked me in and I wanted to see how all of these matches turned out.  Were they going to be together forever? How was it going to change their lives? Are they truly as perfect for each other as they thought they would be when meeting their DNA match?

While I enjoyed all of the different characters in this story, I really liked Nick and Ellie’s stories the best.  I’m not exactly sure what it was about their stories that spoke to me, but I found myself looking forward to their chapters.

Mandy was fine, but she came across as a bit desperate and needy to me.  She got herself into a fine mess and had a time trying to get out of it.  It did end on a hopeful note, so that was nice.

Christopher’s story was just…strange.  I’m not a fan of being a psychopath’s head and that’s where we were.  The end of his part of the book was definitely different, and completely unexpected.  I can’t say it was all together believable, but this is fiction, right? lol

Jade’s story was sad and frustrating all at the same time.  I wasn’t surprised at the outcome of that part of the book as I saw it coming from a mile away.  Her part wasn’t bad, but was too predictable for my liking.

Nick’s story made my heart hurt.  I felt for this man who was forced into doing things he didn’t want to do, and then had to suffer the consequences.  I just wanted to crawl through the book and give him a huge hug.

Ellie and her match Tim were an interesting pair.  They were so different from each other that I suspected something not so great was going to happen and I was proven right.  The magnitude of what happened was completely unexpected, but I loved that I didn’t see it coming.

Overall, I liked the book as Marrs is a good story-teller and the DNA match thing was intriguing.  While I didn’t love the whole book, I did read it in (more or less) one sitting, so that was a plus.  This was my first book by Marrs, but I’m sure I’ll be reading more by him in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 352
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.   That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.   Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Nalini Singh has written a thriller novel and I didn’t think I’d be interested in that kind of thing since I read almost strictly romance but Nalini Singh is such a good writer that I couldn’t help myself. I had to check this one out and though there were parts that were a little slow for me, I still had a good time reading this one. Nalini Singh tells a story so well, that I could almost feel the coastal breeze on my face and see everything so clearly even though I’ve never been to New Zealand before.

Golden Cove, a coastal village on the west side of New Zealand was home to Anahera before she fled for London, swearing to never return. Eight years later, Anahera is back in Golden Cove to try to heal from the death of her husband and the ghosts that haunted her before, return when a girl she knew as a child, who is now a young woman disappears and the old hurts and scares of the past return with a vengeance. The residents of Golden Cove have always been more than neighbors. They’re a family in the small village and this time Anahera is older and she won’t just sit aside while bad things happen to her family. With the help of Will, the town’s only police presence, Anahera starts to investigate the disappearance of Miriama. The more the two of them dig into their investigation, the more shit starts popping up. You’d think that because this is a Nalini Singh book that there would be a romance between the out of town cop and the newly returned Anahera but this book wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t romantic suspense. It was a straight-up suspense novel and while I missed a central romantic plot, overall, I still enjoyed this one.

The beginning was really slow because we’re getting the set up of the story and it’s not a happy go lucky kind of story. There’s a history that is dark and it’s hard but the more that I kept reading, the more that I started to understand, the more I appreciated the slow start. Nalini Singh does a great job of making the small town of Golden Cove a character that was just as important as the good guys and the bad guys. When all was said and done, I appreciated her efforts but if I’m honest, I much prefer her paranormal romances. That’s more of a preference than anything else. Nalini Singh is good at whatever she decides to write. She can write her ass off and this book proves that. She does romance extremely well and with this book, she really does her thing. I think with a couple of more books under her belt in this genre, she’s going to be another force in the suspense, mystery and thriller worlds. She’s legit.

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Au Pair by Emma Rous

Posted April 3, 2019 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Au Pair by Emma RousReviewer: Ames
The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Format: Print
Source: Library
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 379
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two-half-stars

A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

This book caught my eye when it was appearing on lists of books to look forward to in 2019 so I requested it from my local library. Knowing it was about a nanny I had a few predictions about what would happen and I wasn’t wrong but oh man I wasn’t right either!

The Au Pair begins with Seraphine going through her father’s things after he’s passed away. She finds a photograph that was taken on the day she was born, which also happens to be the day her mom died (suicide), which shows her mother holding one baby but also looking really happy. Seraphine is a twin so she’s consumed by the question why there’s only one baby in the picture and why her mom looks so happy when only hours later she took her own life. This mystery has Seraphine tracking down Laura, the nanny her parents used that summer before her and her brother were born. Immediately after talking to Laura, who requests that she be left alone, Seraphine starts getting threatening messages left around her house.

Between this modern day search for the truth, the Au Pair also flashes back to that summer from Laura’s point of view. I thought Laura’s story was more interesting than Seraphine’s although not a lot happens. She’s a student who’s hired to nanny for a couple who already have a little boy. The mother has some mental health issues that her mother and husband keep asking Laura how she’s doing. The husband is away all week working in London and comes home on the weekends to be with his family. The only excitement is when Laura develops a crush on Alex, a friend to the family who comes to visit from time to time.

I have to say, I was somewhat enjoying this book for a good two-thirds of the story but then once the mystery started to be revealed to the reader I was not impressed. Laura’s feelings about things that were happening were very flat and there was no depth to her. I was right about something I predicted happening but then the train went completely off the rails and started flying around the moon. LOL That’s honestly how crazy the plot became. Also, for a book taking place in 2017, why didn’t Seraphine take pictures with her freaking cell phone of the threatening messages that were being left for her? I have to admit that really annoyed me. The danger was weak in the end and the mystery was crazy pants and not in a good way. In the end I’m only going to give the Au Pair

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Game by Angie West

Posted January 30, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Game by Angie WestReviewer: Tracy
The Game by Angie West
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 7th 2015
Pages: 60
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four-stars

Do you want to play a game?

Lei Guthrie and her best friend, Iris, have a tradition. Every Friday night after work they play a game, preferably vintage, the weirder the better. So when Lei finds a romance novel trivia game rumored to be cursed, she couldn’t be happier. Until she and Iris become trapped in the game. The rules are simple. Make it through three romance novel scenes gone horribly wrong and retrieve a silver key from each. Oh yeah, and stay alive.

Lei Guthrie is having a horrible day.  She did save an old lady from getting hit by a bus but then the old lady told her she was psychic and that Lei was going to die if she didn’t prevent it.  Ooookay.  Weird.  Since Lei had thrown down her shopping bags when she saved the old lady, all of her purchases – a game and wine included, had been ruined.  She stops by her local thrift store and finds a game that says it’s a romance trivia game.  The owner of the thrift shop tells her it’s supposedly cursed but that only intrigues her more.

Lei and her best friend Iris put the game out and are a bit confused that this romance trivia game would have  a game board that looks like a graveyard but they’re not put off.  The minute they start to play, however, strange things start to happen and soon they find themselves in the game.  Lei’s house has disappeared and a guy calling himself the crypt keeper is explaining that they have to go into 3 different doors – find a key, give it to him and return back out the door in order to return to reality.  The problem is that it might be easy to find the key but getting back out the door isn’t easy at all.  Also, if they die in the game, they die for real.

When I read the blurb for this novella I was more than curious as to what was going to happen to Lei and her friend Iris.  No, it’s not a romance, but since it had a romance trivia game involved I couldn’t pass it up and I’m really glad I didn’t.  The story is well written and completely compelling – I was sucked in from the first page.

Now when the book says romance trivia it’s more like acting out scenes in a book and of course this is the absolute darkest side of romance you can get.  Lei and Iris had their work cut out for them, that’s for sure.  The end of the book left us hanging just a bit as to what happened but only enough to make me sit and think about the possible outcomes.  Though a darker story it was a totally enjoyable. Don’t judge this book by its horrid cover – it’s worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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