Wednesday, January 19, 2022

{I've Been Reading} The Tally Stick

 

The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon

The Chamberlain family vanished without a trace one night in 1978 when their car plunged off of an isolated road. By the time another car passed, all evidence of the accident had been washed away by the heavy rain. By the time anyone would have realized that the family of six was missing, there was no hope of finding out what had happened. In 2010, the bones of their oldest son are found, along with a piece of scored wood. Forensics show that he didn't die until four years after the family's disappearance. 

The Tally Stick is a black, fascinating story of survival in remote New Zealand. The plot moves between the time of the accident, what happens after the bones are discovered, and the years in between. You don't know what's going to happen, but you know what didn't happen and that's where the suspense comes in. The author also has an amazing way of capturing things like the impact of the car crash. I physically tensed up when I read that passage. 


Chloe Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh 

I really loved this fast paced domestic thriller. Chloe, online star of CC and Me, is missing. In reality she's 13-year-old Abigail and she's been getting less and less enthusiastic about keeping up the online persona her mother created when she was four. Of courss  Jennifer Scarborough is worried about her missing daughter -- but she's also determined to exploit the situation and generate as much publicity as possible. She's an absolutely awful person and the detective in charge of the case, who happened to be her best friend when the two of  them were Chloe's age, knows exactly the sort of thing she's capable of. 

The plot is a roller coaster with some truly heart stopping plunges and it kept me guessing until the end, which I wish hadn't been quite to abrupt. 


 

The Other  Family by Wendy Corsi Staub

Life in a New York brownstone will be a huge change for the Howell family, one they're not all entirely confident about. But it's only for a year, a temporary relocation for Keith's job. They'll get used to sharing a bathroom and having less space to spread out in.  The neighbors are welcoming, the girls have been accepted into a great school, and things  are looking good. Until the neighbor's son let it slip that there was a triple homicide in their new home. Until the neighbor herself pointed out the post-motem photograph hanging in the stairwell. There've been multiple tragedies in the house over the past century. And strange things are happening now. 

I enjoyed this one. The characters were three dimensional and interesting. Some things that really didn't make sense were explained by the end. The plot went in directions I wasn't expecting and kept me entertained. 

  Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

{I've Been Reading} The Last House on the Street


The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain 

In 2010, Kayla Carter and her young daughter move into the house where her husband died. The two of them designed their dream house together, at the edge of a new development. The large is huge, filled with trees that now seem oppressive and foreboding. She's heard that the woods are haunted and something about the lake behind the house frightens her. Even before the vandalism starts, Kayla is nervous.

In 1965, Ellie Hockley defies her parents' wishes to spend the summer volunteering as a civil rights worker, helping to register black voters. She's been thrust into an unfamiliar setting and is starting to discover just how sheltered her life has always been. 

Chapters alternate between the two women and I definitely found Ellie's story more interesting. 
This book is nothing like the other domestic thrillers I've been reading. It packs a heartbreaking emotional punch and I stayed up hours later than I should have because I couldn't bear to put it down and not know (even for a few hours) how it was going to end.

 

All I Want by Darcey Bell 

A married couple fall in love with a Victorian mansion in upstate New York and decide to buy the dilapidated old place. It needs a lot of work, but it's structurally pretty sound. It has its own theater right there in the house, built back when it was a dry out clinic where Broadway stars could retreat to sober up. They joke about the old movies they used to watch together, about houses with walls that drip blood, but they're not scared. Ben will come up from the city on weekends and Emma will live alone in the house for most of the week, overseeing the renovations and looking forward to the birth of their baby. Everything is almost perfect...at first. 

I absolutely loved the first three quarters of the book. After that, I was still hooked even though I didn't care for the direction the book was going in...and then there was the last chapter. I don't even know what to think about that ending, except that I didn't like it at all. 

Disclosure -- This post contains affiliate links. The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

{I've Been Reading} Reckless Girls

 


Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins 

On the surface, it's a perfect excursion. When Amma and Brittany hire Nico and his girlfriend, Lux, to get them to Muroe Island, they jump at the chance. They don't think about the island's history of shipwrecks and cannibalism. They don't think about spending two weeks alone with strangers. It isn't until they arrive at the island and find another boat already anchored there that Lux feels her first twinge of unease. On the surface, they're all getting along and having fun, but beneath that things aren't what they seem. I enjoyed this one. The plot alternates between "before" and "now" and gradually fills in what's really going on in these relationships. 



The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield 

Little Charlotte should have been perfectly safe at the birthday party. Neither of her parents was there, but the yard and house were full of watchful adults. Her aunt and uncle had both promised to keep an eye on her...but no one has any idea when she disappeared or how it might have happened. Hours pass before she's even missed. 

As the hunt for Charlie continues, the plot of this one twists and turns and gets less and less plausible. I might've been more accepting of some of it if the author hadn't waited so long to let the reader know things that everyone else in the book would have already known. 





Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Please See Us

 


Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Two dead girls lie in the marsh, not far from the Atlantic City boardwalk. A teenage psychic begins having disturbing visions. Please See Us is bleak and atmospheric and the plot slips between quite a few different characters. (It wasn't until the end of the book that I finally figured out I had thought that two different women were actually the same person and by that point, I wasn't about to go back and re-read it to get things straight.) The pace is slow, but the atmosphere kept me reading until it started to become clear how the different  characters all fit into the plot. 
 
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

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