Dear Child by Romy Hausmann
A woman escapes a windowless cabin in the woods and is hit by a car as she tries to find help. When the ambulance arrives, the woman's daughter identifies her as Lena. Her basic appearance matches a woman who has been missing for fourteen years. Even the scar on her face matches, but when Lena's grieving parents see her at the hospital, they realize that this isn't their daughter.
The first few pages had me worried that this was just another version of Room. Stick with it, because it's not that at all. This is so much else going on here, but it takes a while for that to sink in. The story is told by the woman who escaped the cabin, and the daughter, and Lena's father. The details don't add up at first, but it's always clear which character's head the reader is in and whether it's in the past or the present and the more things start to click together and make sense, the more chilling the story gets. I absolutely loved this one and can't recommend it enough.
Before She Was Helen By Caroline Cooney
I remember loving Caroline B. Cooney's young adult books when they came out years ago, so I eagerly picked up this one. Only a few pages in, I found myself disliking the protagonist. It's not that she's old...it's that she reminds the reader over and over how incapable and ditzy she is and she immediately makes bad decisions that kick off the entire plot. How could someone who had protected herself so carefully for fifty years have such poor judgment? At one point she muses that maybe she used to be smarter and more capable and is starting to slip. Maybe that's it. In the chapters that describe her past, I really found myself liking her younger self. The plot rambles all over the place, from the very interesting past to the bewildering present. I counted at least a dozen characters, most with chapters from their own viewpoint. They were easy enough to keep straight, but the sheer number of people involved in the plot kept it bouncing all over the place.
The Body From the Past by Judi Lynn
The latest fixer-upper that Jazzie, her husband, and her cousin have purchased comes with a locked room that the former owner never bothered to force her way into. If there's anything I question about the plot it's how someone could live in a house with a sealed bedroom and no curiosity about what's inside. Jazzi, of course, is brimming with curiosity and a little wary of what might be lurking behind that door. The room turns out to be a dusty shrine to a teenager who died years earlier and her family wants nothing to do with any of the girls mementos or diaries. Jazzi can't bear to toss it all into the dumpster so she takes it home and begins reading, quickly discovering that the teenager's murder was never solved. I really enjoy this series and its cast of characters. They're fun to spend time with and the mystery was intriguing, but huge chunks of the book are spent on feeding the pets and showering the mundane details of everyday life.
The Temp by Michelle Francis
Carrie and her husband, Adrian, seem to have it all, successful careers in television production, awards, a great marriage. But when she finds out that she's pregnant, Carrie wants more. She wants a baby. What she quickly discovers that she doesn't want is Emma, the temp filling in her position while she's away from the office. While Carrie struggles to balance her newborn and her job, Emma is effortlessly stepping into Carrie's shoes and getting close to her boss and her husband. And it's becoming more and more obvious that Adrian isn't going to embrace his new role as a father. The tension that permeates their relationship since Rory's birth keep the two of them from comparing notes and realizing that Emma is too good to be true. I much prefer that to books where the characters just never bother to hand a conversation. The story moves slowly until the plot finally starts to twist and things quickly escalate and the ending is....well, it's an ending. I'm not sure it fit with the rest of the book or was remotely plausible. It definitely didn't go where I thought it was going.
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.