Here is What I Read - March 2020

I definitely didn't think I would be able to read 7 books this month. I have found when my home routine is broken by a trip, that it takes a bit for me to be able to get back into the routine I had gotten used to! Luckily, I got back into reading mid-month and was able to get through 6 books! Since the library is closed for awhile, I really started reading books off my personal shelf and have also saved a bunch of books from Netgalley!

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Bring Me Back

by B.A. Paris

What is this book about?

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

What did I think?

B.A. Paris is one of my top thriller authors. As you will see, this is the first of two books by this author that I read in March. This book was a page turner and kept me guessing. I think I had 2 or 3 different theories about what was going on and none of them ended up being correct. I definitely recommend reading this book - it is a pretty quick read!

My Dark Vanessa

by Kate Elizabeth Russell

What is this book about?

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

What did I think?

Wow. This book was pretty heavy. As the book description above says, it is about the story of a fifteen year old and her older teacher. The book goes back and forth between 2007 and 2017. It ends in present day as Vanessa works through her inner struggle. She fought so hard throughout the book telling herself that her relationship with her teacher wasn't abuse. Get ready for an intense book!

Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin

What is this book about?

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort - are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth - not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

What did I think?

This book was just released! The cover really caught my attention. You know how I have mentioned before that I enjoy books that grab me within the first few chapters? Well this one started out with a family going on vacation and introduces you to their personalities. The sister Alison disappears, and the men initially suspected of killing her are let go. In present day, we follow the younger sister, Claire, who is still so strung up on what happened to her sister. This book keeps you guessing. I definitely didn't see it ending the way it did!

The Shape of Night

by Tess Gerritsen

What is this book about?

A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a quiet coastal town in Maine–and to a string of unsolved murders–in this haunting tale of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Ava Collette is punishing herself for an unspeakable tragedy. So she flees Boston and rents an old home named Brodie’s Watch on a remote coastal peninsula of Maine, hoping to work on a cookbook inspired by New England cuisine that she’s been trying to finish for months. She immediately feels at peace in the isolated house–until she starts to hear strange noises.

Rumor has it that a sea captain named Brodie has haunted the house for decades. Then, one night, Ava is awakened to find herself face to face with an apparition who looks–and feels–all too real. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of accidental deaths nearby that don’t add up. And as Ava starts to check into the previous renter’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to realize that there’s a disturbing secret some in town are desperate to keep hidden.

Soon all of Ava’s waking hours are consumed by her investigation, and her nights are ignited by Captain Brodie’s ghostly visits. But even as she questions her own sanity, she knows she must uncover the truth before a killer strikes again.

What did I think?

This book was definitely different than what I was expecting. However, that isn't a bad thing. This book has two different unanswered questions: What happened to make Ava flee to this house in Maine? What is the story of the mysterious Captain Brodie who is now haunting this home. This book is a pretty quick read and overall I enjoyed it and would recommend picking it up!

What it Seems

by Emily Bleeker

What is this book about?

Adopted by her controlling foster mother at the age of eight, twenty-year-old Tara has seen little of the outside world. Lonely, punished for the slightest offense, her only distraction comes from watching the Feely family’s online videos. They’re an affectionate vlogging quintet and an internet sensation. Most important, they are Tara’s mental refuge. Then the opportunity arises for them to be something more. When Tara accepts an internship with the close-knit clan, they’re her escape.

Daring to run away, and defying Mother’s rules, Tara is welcomed into the loving fold. But the more Tara gets to know them, the more she realizes that not everything is as it seems. As secrets slowly surface, the image of the perfect family begins to crack. For Tara, it’s another trap.

To claim a life of her own, she’ll need a new escape plan. Because as the show’s popularity explodes, reaching even more fascinated viewers, Tara can’t shake the feeling that Mother is among their ranks. She’s watching. She’s waiting. She’ll never let her go.

What did I think?

Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read this book the day that it was released. I read this book in one day! It was pretty gripping from the very beginning and had me rooting for Tara through this whole thing. I sympathized with her struggle to just find a place in this world after getting the internship with the Feely's. Tara ended up being a strong person despite all the circumstances that made her appear "weak"

The Break Down

by B.A. Paris

What is this book about?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

What did I think?

This was my second B.A. Paris read of the month. I've had this book on my shelf for a few months and after reading through my library books, decided to give it a read. This is another memory loss book where the main character sees a woman who she finds out the next day is murdered, suddenly strange things begin to happen to her. Like most of these thriller books that I read, the author does a great job of throwing a curve ball into the story that I didn't see coming.

Last One to Lie - Available June 2020

by J.M. Winchester

What is this book about?

Her little girl was supposed to be at day care when Kelsey arrived to pick her up. But they have no record of her daughter ever being there. And to make matters worse, her husband is missing too—he won’t pick up his phone, and the school he supposedly works at says he never accepted their job offer.

Detective Paul Ryan knows something’s up with Kelsey’s story. Kelsey’s husband might be involved in their daughter’s disappearance, but the deeper the detective digs, the more inconsistencies he finds.

As Detective Ryan tries to uncover the truth, what he finds are more deeply buried secrets that someone clearly never wanted found.

What did I think?

Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read this book just a few days after it was released. I had been seeing a few of the Instagram book accounts I follow talking about it. I started and finished it in the same day. It was a page turner as this woman tries to figure out what happened to her life. Does she have memory loss? Or is it something else? I highly recommend it!

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