The Good Daughter (Karin Slaughter)

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Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

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The Good Daughter is the most recent crime thriller that I have listened to during this kick that I am on. And it was EXCELLENT.

It was the first time that I have picked up a book by this author, and I have to say that her stories are detailed with deep backstories for each character and a ton of depth. Every character had different facets of their personality, and each had at least one redeeming quality, or character flaw.

I started this book thinking that it was mostly about the school shooting and Charlie representing Kelly, trying to get her off the murder charge, but this storyline only serves to bring the Quinn family back together after nearly twenty years. The Good Daughter opens with the tragic events that destroyed their family 28 years ago, and flashes back and forth between that night and the present. The story is also told from both of the daughters’ perspectives.

I felt that the pacing to the story was timely and finished this book in four days. I did predict the ending and unravelled several points in regards to the past and the school shooting very early in the book but I didn’t find that this took away from my enjoyment of the story at all. I will definitely be going back to read more books by this author!

This audiobook is very pleasant to listen to. It is read with a southern accent which changes slightly for each character, something that is really helpful, especially since the book is told from several characters’ POV.

There are graphic descriptions of violence, murder and sexual violence in this book. Generally, the victims are teens at the time and this may be difficult for some readers to get through.

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A Stranger In the House

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He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

—                         —                         —

After finishing The Couple Next Door in record time last week, I decided to jump straight into Shari Lapena’s new book, A Stranger in the House. It is another crime thriller and features the same investigators, Detectives Razback and Jennings, but an entirely new cast of characters otherwise.

The story flows smoothly and I found myself just as engrossed as I was in the previous book. There isn’t the same sense of urgency in my approach because the crime isn’t centred around a missing baby. My maternal instincts weren’t in play this time – fiction or not – and the murder victim isn’t nearly so sympathetic. I still wanted to know who had killed him though and whether Karen would get off.

The thing about twisty authors is that the reader learns their style and it can become easy to predict certain things from that habit. I had theories about the identity of the murderer of course, but as the chapters wound down, it was easier to predict the outcome.

*** Minor Spoiler Ahead ***

I will say that I really appreciate that the author named the murdered man Robert, and the neighbour’s husband Bob. This threw me off for awhile because I thought that Karen was referring to Bob when she was brought into the hospital, semi-conscious and rambling Robert’s name. I kept waiting for him to pop up as sudden suspect, or at least to take on increased significance.

I loved this book as well and will anxiously await the announcement of another coming from this author. On her website, I learned that she is a local author so I am going to try to convince the library I work at to invite her for an author visit event in 2018!

The only other point of note is that the audiobook has a different narrator than the woman who read The Couple Next Door. I like both voices but this narrator pronounced certain things differently, (read: wrong in my opinion!), such as Det. Razback’s name, and this annoyed me.

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The Couple Next Door

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You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

—                         —                         —

Shari Lapena has been the bestselling author behind a couple of book club heavy hitters the last couple of years. Her book The Couple Next Door remains popular in my library and has received mostly rave reviews.

It is a crime thriller. A baby is abducted from her crib with no apparent evidence or motive. The parents are desperate to find her but police aren’t so sure that they are innocent.

The Couple Next Door is told from several different perspectives, but most of the chapters are from Anne (Mum), Marco (Dad), or the detectives’ points of view. This story is engrossing, and super easy to read. The language is simple but every character has multiple issues you have to work through, layers to peel back, while the reader tries to figure out who is behind Cora’s kidnapping.

Although abducting an infant is a heinous crime, there is little violence in the book and none of it is graphic. I wouldn’t consider The Couple Next Door to be a particularly dark book and several friends with young children were able to enjoy the book as well.

I loved this book until the very end. The only part I didn’t like was the final bit, after the arrest (or arrests), but I can’t elaborate without giving away an important plot point. You’ll just have to trust me that you’ll know it when you read it.

The narrator of this audiobook has a pleasant voice that was very easy to listen to. I would definitely be interested in other books she has read.

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Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

So I recently listened to the book Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (aka JK Rowling) but somehow I ended up with the wrong book??

There are technically two books by this name. One is the original screenplay that Rowling wrote for the 2016 film, and the other is a textbook Harry Potter gets for school, which Rowling actually wrote and released to raise money for a charity in the UK.

Confused yet?

I was!

I thought I was going to be listening to the actual screenplay when I downloaded the ebook from my library’s digital catalogue because it did say original screenplay in the description, and the cover art matched that of the screenplay on goodreads.

Despite having almost identical titles, these ARE different books and I ended up listening to the former rather than the latter.

So the text book version of Fantastic Beasts is very interesting, although not quite what I was looking for. The audiobook is only two or three hours in length and I listened to it while driving one day, so I did end up finishing it. At first I thought it was just a cool introduction before the story started but once I was halfway through I decided to continue. It didn’t help that the textbook was read by Eddie Redmayne which made me believe even more that it would eventually evolve into the story told in the film. (He does have a very sonorous voice though).

Needless to say, I am ready for my first day of class for Magizoology!

Here is the official blurb for Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander’s classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief and J.K. Rowling’s international charity, Lumos, which will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, one can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

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A very interesting read for any Potterhead who is desperate to learn more about the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.

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Breaking Free (Shadowlands book #3)

The Shadowlands series should be read in order. The first book is called Club Shadowlands and the kindle version can be acquired for free from Amazon : )

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A sadistic husband left Beth scarred, inside and out. Only at the Shadowlands BDSM club does she feel like a woman. But her fears limit her to Doms who won’t overwhelm her–the very ones who cannot arouse her. The Master of the Shadowlands gives her an ultimatum: accept the Dom he assigns or lose her membership. The last thing Beth wants is a ruthless, powerful Dom, but that’s just what she gets.

Asked to take on a problem sub, Nolan sees the issue immediately–although truly submissive, the little redhead is too scared to relinquish control and her Doms have let her get away with it. That will change right now.

As Master Nolan takes Beth under command, compelling her submission, she’s terrified, but the experienced Dom brings her pleasure, not pain. His only demand is that she never lie to him. Under his capable hands, her body comes alive, and she begins to heal. As he pushes her limits, she learns to trust…and then to love. And she realizes he is beginning to care for her in return.

But now her cruel husband has found her, and Master Nolan discovers she’s been lying and lying and lying.

—                         —                         —

I love Master Nolan. He is my very favourite Dom so far, and that’s saying something because every Dom in the Shadowlands is hot, attentive and genuine!

Breaking Free is about Beth’s overcoming past abuse but I LOVE that this isn’t a simple hero-rescues-heroine story. Beth escaped her powerful and influential abusive husband before the book begins, going into a self-styled witness protection plan. She started and built up her own landscaping company to make a new life for herself – a far cry from the financially-privileged house wife role she played before.

Even more impressive, she joins a private BDSM club in this new life, trying to overcome the physical, emotional and sexual abuse to regain her control over intimacy and engage on an interpersonal level with another kinkster. Although this is something she is seriously struggling with, I am so thankful that the author didn’t paint Beth as a wilting flower, afraid to try again.

“She’s a good person. Honest, full of enthusiasm. But when she gets here, she turns into a mouse. She’s not just submissive; she’s terrified. She comes to the club because she requires more than the vanilla world can offer, but we’re not meeting those needs.”

Nolan studied the scene some more. Pretty obvious what the problem was. She was too scared to give up control, but she needed to give up control to get her needs as a submissive met.

“She wouldn’t be an easy sub to top.”

“Exactly.” Z tilted his head. “You up to the challenge?”

Sinclair, Cherise. Breaking Free (Masters of the Shadowlands Series Book 3) (p. 5). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Breaking Free is another short novel, like the first two in the Shadowlands series, but it is self-contained. I am super thankful that the author evolved into writing longer novels after this one, and also that she later wrote a novella that follows Nolan and Beth, updating up on their future life and relationship. I look forward to reviewing it soon!

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Leap of the Lion (The Wild Hunt Legacy #4)

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She shifts for the first time on the day of her escape.

After a decade of captivity, Darcy MacCormac escapes the corrupt, clandestine organization called the Scythe, leaving family and friends behind. She must find a way to rescue them. Discovered by other shifters, the brand-new cougar gets two mentors. Blademage Gawain is an easy-going blacksmith with a steel-hard core. His brother Owen is a deadly warrior. Grumpy. Rude. And he doesn’t like her.

They aren’t the mates she’d dreamed of—they’re more.

Powerful, dominating Owen protects the clan—especially the weak—and the only remnant of an abused childhood is his avoidance of females. Now he has to mentor one? Although Gawain soon falls for the dauntless little cat, Owen knows better than to lose his head. But Darcy has a gift for repairing everything…including damaged hearts.

Love isn’t in her destiny.

In the brothers’ arms, Darcy finds safety. Comfort. And love. But however much she longs for a future with Owen and Gawain, her people need her. Somehow, she must find the courage and skills to save them, even if the attempt demands her life.

—                         —                         —

I have been eagerly awaiting this book all year. The Wild Hunt series is one of the handful of book series that I wish I could bring to life. It has the personality I look for in books, where the whole town comes to life through a supportive cast, strong leading characters and well thought out culture and backstories (since this is a fantasy series). Nothing in the Wild Hunt Legacy feels contrived or forced.

Cherise Sinclair masterfully balances the needs and distinct personalities of three main characters in a way no other author can match. Owen, Gawain and Darcy each had their moment to shine and I felt that the needs of each character were balanced with each other, and with the plot demands.

The romance kindles much slower in Leap of the Lion that readers of Sinclair would expect.  Owen and Gawain develop respect and friendship for Darcy before attraction takes over. There isn’t the same level of insta-romance that I typically expect but once love developed between these three, it was everything that I had hoped for.

Leap of the Lion grows the series in a lot of ways. We learned more about shifter culture, specifically Tinkers, Blade Mages and Healers, and several more shifters were introduced who could lead in stories of their own. While I am excited to get my paws on Tynan and Donal’s story, I think that Fell/Patrin/Heather will come first, which isn’t exactly a hardship.

I definitely recommend this book, this series, this author! But these books should be read in order, starting with Hour of the Lion.

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Dark Citadel (Shadowlands #2)

This book takes place a couple of months after the first book, Club Shadowlands. While not absolutely necessary, it would be best if these books were read in order.

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After Kari breaks up with her date during Beginner’s Night at Club Shadowlands, she’s given the option to continue with an experienced dominant. Despite her steamy fantasies about BDSM, the inexperienced schoolteacher plans to simply observe. Yet under the unyielding hands of Master Dan, she not only participates, but gives him everything he asks for. There is nothing she can hide from him. Not her passion…or her love.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and content (including/not limited to bondage, caning, restraint, spanking, tethering) exhibitionism, voyeurism.

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Well Kari is officially my hero! This goody two shoes teacher who is as sweet as can be signs up to take BDSM classes at the local kink club with her sorta boyfriend, and when he acts like a jerk, decides to leave him and carry on with the classes on her own!

That takes some guts. It is also where she meets the love of her life, “Master Dan”, an instructor in the class who agrees to be her partner. He guides her into the kink-filled world of Club Shadowlands. And he certainly doesn’t waste any time finding out what kinks innocent little Kari would like to try out.

Kari felt herself turn red.

“Well, she has fantasies.” He grinned. “Good. A gorgeous barbarian chasing you down and taking you against your will? Have you had that one?”

“I—” She bit her lower lip. Was she wearing an I-have-kinky-dreams brand or something?

“I would enjoy chasing you; I wonder if you’d enjoy being caught?”

Sinclair, Cherise. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 2) (Kindle Locations 275-278). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Master Dan has quite the hot temper but this is tempered by his strong protective instincts, instincts that are only exacerbated by his dominant nature and homicide detective career.

He also has a sense of humour, and an alarming ability to work his way back into Kari’s heart when he messes up.

She could just imagine, all her friends and family mourning around her grave. The tombstone would read Kari Wagner, Died of Sheer Stupidity… [on the other hand], It would be almost as bad to have her grave marker read Died of Terminal Bedroom Boredom.

Sinclair, Cherise. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 2) (Kindle Locations 190-192). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Dark Citadel is a short novel, about the same length as the first in the series. Thankfully characters repeatedly show up in later books as a part of the supporting cast, because I definitely did not get enough of Dan and Kari.

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