The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

The week before Halloween seems quite the fitting time to review this book, as it is somewhat likely to have you sleeping with the lights on. Just a wee bit on the scary side, but oh, so unbelievably good!

Having read 3 of Ware’s 4 books, all of which I liked, I can say that this is her best book to date! It is such a shocking story and the ending is not one that I ever saw coming! At all! Not one small tiny blip of an idea of how it would end.

I am so glad I did not read other reviews of this, because I would hate to have missed out on this one. Ware’s ability to set the tone of a story is spot on, in my opinion. I felt that I could completely grasp the fear that gripped Rowan inside that house. A few people claimed not to understand the ending as to Rowan’s fate, but it is clear that she would never hurt one of those children. Ever.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you can get to it before Halloween! And the narration by Imogen Church added a bit more intrigue to the already great plot! Especially with some of the terms native to Scotland, as well as the added accents of London and Scotland.

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Book Details: 

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The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey

Jamie Elders knows a few things to be true:

  • She knows her father is dead.
  • She knows her mother spent 8 years in prison for stealing drugs.
  • She knows the uncle, Loyal, who got custody of her and her brother, Toby, is a con man.
  • She knows she can’t leave town until Toby is grown and can take care of himself.
  • She knows there is an Elders family curse. (It has haunted her all of her life.)

Her mother, Phoebe did teach Jamie about poker. About playing, dealing, winning. And Jamie was a model student. She is good. Really good. As soon as she gets Toby out of high school and on his own she is going to leave Blind River, New York for the poker circuit and never come back.

Toby, though, is proving to be much less likely to stand on his own. His drinking and his temper are getting out of control and Jamie is doing her best to reel him in. But years of missing his mother and abuse by Loyal is taking a serious toll on him and he is quickly unraveling.

Ironically named, Loyal is drunk more often than he is sober and is no help at all with Toby. Loyal’s only real work is running illegal gambling rings around town with his partner-in-crime, Circuit Court Judge JW Keating. Keating never saw a bribe he didn’t take.

“Debts and favors were exactly how Blind River kept its hold on people.”

The Girl From Blind River, p. 5

So when Jamie becomes indebted to Loyal, he holds her to it by forcing her to help cover up a murder to protect none other than Judge Keating. As she well knows, Keating has all the power and all of the crooked police officers in his control so Jamie is reluctantly going to go along. That is until they find a way to blame Toby and Jamie will have to either accept it or face the consequences of her actions.

Powerful. That is what I’d say about this story. A young woman, 19 years old, fighting to raise her brother since she was 10, wanting desperately to leave Blind River and make something of her life, but believing there is no way to break the curse that plagues her family.

There are so many things that I love about this book. The storyline is unlike anything I have read. Also, Jamie is such a well-written character and one that I quickly wanted to protect and to see her get what she wanted. The writing is absolutely lyrical. There were so many sentences that just flowed beautifully!

“Crowley’s pub was just as much a part of the bedrock of Blind River as the Methodist Church, but far more profitable and always more crowded.

The Girl From Blind River, p. 222

With beautiful writing and true-to-life dialogue, as well as a good smattering of subtle foreshadowing, Massey’s style is certain to have me waiting anxiously for her next novel and all of the ones that come after that one. That said, I very highly recommend this novel!

Book Details: 

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

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The Girl Who Dared To Think Series By Bella Forrest

Having read (and loved) Bella Forrest’s The Gender Game series, I was definitely intrigued by the Girl Who Dared series, especially since you get a very small taste of it in the 6th book of The Gender Game series, The Gender Plan.

While I loved The Gender Game, I became even more obsessed with The Girl Who Dared! This series was so well-written, so well-planned, and so fascinating that I could not put it down and I read all seven of them in a little over a week. Considering that they are all around 400 pages, that is a bit of a feat. But to me, they are that good!

I don’t want to give away too much but in The Gender Plan Violet Bates went to this tower and was shocked by what she saw there. The people of the tower were just as shocked to see her. Neither group knew there were any other humans left on the planet.

This series starts about 30 years after The Gender Game series ends with Liana Castell at the heart of it. Liana is not very careful about what she thinks and believes, and this is a big problem for her.

The Girl Who Dared to Think (Book 1)

The Girl Who Dared To Think By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Everyone’s life worth in the tower is defined by the number displayed the wristband they have to wear. That number comes from a rating of usefulness and loyalty to the tower as well as what they are thinking. This is done by a chip placed in the back of the neck that embeds in the brain and “reads” their thoughts.

The highest worth is ten and Liana’s parents are tens. So is her twin brother. Liana, who is currently being trained to be an overseer (like a police officer) to patrol for those whose worth is less than four. Liana is currently a four.

Threes require drug treatment.

Twos are isolated.

Ones disappear.

She hears all the time that her number should be higher, after all, Scipio, the AI computer that decides everything about the tower from what the temperature should be to what foods to grow, to who should live and who should die, allowed her parents to keep her. She was a second born twin and should not have been allowed to live because the tower population has to be kept at an exact number to be able to support its inhabitants.

When her worst nightmare comes true and she drops to a three, she becomes desperate enough to search for the boy she saw with a 10 on his wrist even though his attitude and actions toward the tower could not possibly have given him that score. When she finally finds him, her life takes a very unexpected turn Liana finds herself getting deeper into danger to find a way to change her life worth, no matter the cost.

So in a world where free thinking makes you a criminal, Liane will dare to think.

The Girl Who Dared To Stand (Book 2)

The Girl Who Dared To Stand By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Liana’s journey continues as she has found a very old, dusty office that has been sealed off from the rest of the tower, and inside she finds information that completely changes the way she thinks about the tower. This room holds all of the secrets of the Tower and the key to the Tower’s future survival. But that path is marked with serious dangers along the way.

The Girl Who Dared To Descend (Book 3)

The Girl Who Dared To Descend By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss

With Scipio/Leo inhabiting Gray’s mind, Liana missed Gray like crazy, but keeping Leo alive is the only thing that will one day save the tower.  Book 2 ended with the death of Devon Alexander, the Champion of the Knights. At the beginning of this book Liana is being taken somewhere (literally – in a laundry bag) on the orders of Engineer Lacey Green and Praetor Strum.

There also has to be a Tournament to determine the next Champion of the Knights. And guess who one of the contestants is…Yep. Liana.

The Girl Who Dared To Rise (Book 4)

The Girl Who Dared To Rise By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

During the beginning of the Tourney for Champion Liana made a deal with Lacey to keep Lacey’s cousin alive so he could become the next Champion but Liana was called on to find someone that she loves who was in trouble and left him under the protection of only one of her team.  He was, after all, a knight himself, but he was murdered and her teammate badly injured.

So now she has to worry about Lacey’s backlash, help one member of her team recover, and keep trying to win the Tourney. No big deal! 

The Girl Who Dared To Lead (Book 5)

The Girl Who Dared To Lead By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Faced with another death, this one someone very close to Liana, she is emotionally drained, not to mention the toll the Tourney has taken on her mind and body. There is also a rogue AI that Liane wants to destroy because of the numerous issues and problems she has caused.

But as the new Champion, Liana she knows that she cannot destroy any part of the AI that is part of Scipio. Also, she now has access to so much information – surely they can find out who is damaging Scipio and how they are doing it. But she is also finding out that getting rid of the expulsion chambers is not going to be as easy as she once thought

The Girl Who Dared To Endure (Book 6)

The Girl Who Dared To Endure By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Now with 4 of the AIs that makeup Scipio’s complete program, Liana and her team try to find a way to fix Scipio and to find out which of the Council Members she should or should not trust, and who is taking out pieces of Scipio’s code.

She may also learn about the travelers who visited the tower 30 years before. 

The Girl Who Dared To Fight (Book 7)

The Girl Who Dared To Fight By Bella Forrest. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The final book in the series, if you made it here you have read 2422 pages in this amazing series with 406 left to go for a total of 2828! Way to go!

Liane must meet with the Council and show them the problems with Scipio’s code in order to prove once and for all that he is dying. But before she gets the chance, she is locked in the chamber and her two most trusted allies have been killed. How will she ever be able to save the tower from the madman who has trapped her and who wants nothing more than to see the Tower destroyed?

I absolutely loved this series and could not recommend it any more highly!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Frances Welty has had a very successful 30-year career as a romance novelist, has been married twice, and has a gaggle of friends who love her. But she recently had the misfortune of falling for a man whose intentions were everything but good. Top that with the first time she has ever had a book denied for publication and she needs to get away for a while. She has decided to treat herself to a trip to a health spa to recover. Ten days of healthy relaxing at Tranquillum House should be just the ticket.

Napolean, Heather, and Zoe Marconi have booked the same trip to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of Zoe’s twin Zack’s death 3 years before.

Ben and Jennifer Chandler need help with their marriage, both are trying to find peace in their lives after an unfortunate fortune has caused them to drift apart.

Francis is looking forward to the time at the spa for the health benefits, but also for getting to know the other guests. Very inquisitive in nature, she wants to know why everyone decided to come for the 10-day healing experience. She also cannot figure out what is going on with the quirky director, Masha. Something seems just a bit off with her, but Frances can’t quite put a finger on what it is about her that seems so strange.

Once they are all checked in, the strange practices begin. Though leary of the rules, she decides to play along. After all, she came for a change. She is surprised to find after a few days that she is feeling a little different, and better.

As she begins to feel better, she starts to believe that there may be something special about the treatment at Tranquillum House. At about that time, however, Masha seems to be getting stranger and Frances and the other guests are starting to wonder what treatments they should expect next.

This is another really good book by Liane Moriarty, although not my favorite Liane Moriarty book, I did enjoy it. I could not make a connection with Frances, although I really liked Zoe and Ben. (I actually wanted them to get together by the end.)

I felt very sorry for Zoe. She was hurting, as were her parents, but they both smothered her and ignored her, making it so much harder for her to heal. Not to mention, all 3 of them blamed themselves for Zack’s death, though none of them have ever said that out loud to each other.

I purchased the book because I absolutely love Liane Moriarty’s writing, but I got it in audiobook format because Caroline Lee is the narrator. She is one of my favorite narrators. I love her voice and her accent (she, like Moriarty, is Australian) is not so thick that it is hard to understand, but enough to give you a truly Australian experience. I could listen to her narrate all day long!

Book Details: 

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The more I read of this story, the more I was sucked into all of the drama and the fear and the more I knew that I must find out exactly what happened to Alicia Berenson and what happened the night her husband Gabriel died. But she isn’t talking. She has not spoken a word since that night. Not one word in 6 years.

Psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to save her. He is certain that he can make her talk and get her to explain what happened and why she has not spoken since. The more he reaches into her mind, the more he gives of himself and the more consumed he becomes with trying to save her.

This novel is written in 3rd person with Theo as its focus, but it also gives hints of Alicia’s point of view through what she has written in her diary. Theo’s POV is also somewhat scattered as he is following the thread of his wife’s infidelity. So not only is he being consumed by Alicia’s well-being but also of trying to decide whether to save his marriage or to all the affair to destroy it. “Love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love. ~ Ruth, The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient by Aled Michaelides. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

In a novel where one of the main characters only talks through short flashbacks in her diary, it is truly amazing how connected I felt toward her. Not only that but how much I wanted to help her, as well. I could not believe how much I wanted to see her overcome her silence and to be exonerated through the process.

After Gabriel’s murder Alicia, a realist artist, painted one last picture. This one of herself with one word at the bottom: Alcestis. Alcestis is from a Greek tragedy about a woman who volunteered her own life to save her husband from death. She was spared, but never spoke another word. No one knows what Alicia meant with the painting, or how the name she gave it connected to her life.

With characters that seem so real, I wanted to be friends with Alicia and I really wanted Theo to be successful with bringing her back to reality. I wanted to know what happened that night, and I wanted Alicia to be blameless. (Not too much to ask, right?)

While I have said that I like to picture the settings of books, this book was heavier on characterization, but with just enough setting to allow your mind to create a clear picture of the places mentioned. Because the characterization is so spectacular, the setting in this novel is not super important but enough to let you play it all out in your head.

This is truly a psychological thriller with a good dose of mystery tucked inside. I highly recommend this novel if you like either of those genres. There is something about this book that reminds me of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It may be that you are looking back at an event and trying to solve a mystery by going through the issues that led up to the night of the murder.

The movie rights have been purchased and I am very hopeful that someone will make this a movie and not a mini-series as the trend has been lately.

Until then, you need to read the book!

Book Details: 

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.
When The Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh. A Propensity to Discuss review.

When The Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh

Erin Clifton is being held in juvenile detention pending her day in court for murdering her father, James. Her attorney, Lisa, is friends with child psychologist Beth Edgewick and has hired Beth to talk to Erin to try to get her to tell them why she shot her father, but Erin refuses to say anything.

The only way Beth believes she can gain Erin’s trust is to tell her about her own childhood. Knowing that this is not only an unconventional method of treatment, but also a bit unethical, Beth forges ahead and tells her what it was like when she was growing up.

Beth’s mom, Annabella, was 19 when Beth was born and four years later she married Jeff and they moved in with him. At first, Jeff was a nice person, but he began drinking not long after they married.

When Jeff drank, he became a raging jealous lunatic whose fists found Annabella all too easily. He later began to turn his anger toward Beth who suffered several broken bones because of his drunken rages.

When Beth’s half brother Jack was born, Beth’s aunt Amy (Anabella’s twin) told her that she would have to take care of Jack. It was at that moment that Beth realized that Amy knew what Jeff did to them, but still, she did not try to help them. When Jack was around four years old, they were taken away from Annabella and put into the foster care system.

Beth knows that Erin had a reason for shooting her father, so she took a chance on telling her story so that Erin could see that something good could come from a bad situation, she just had to tell Beth what had happened to her so that Beth could help her.

This is a really good book, with tons of emotional hot button issues. Beth, who has grown up, but has not really healed, still has issues that she needs to deal with. Erin also has issues that Beth needs to understand so that she can help not only with her defense but also with helping her to heal.

All of this is woven through stories of hope, where you see people in Beth’s life who helped her, much in the same way that she now helps the children she counsels.

This truly was a rewarding story to read and although I read it over the course of a day and a half, there were hard days, as I cried through more than 1/2 of the book. For me, a test of a good story is to laugh out loud, cry a bit, and shout for joy. This book performed on all of those levels and then some.

This truly is a book not to be missed!

Book Details: 

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Harriet “Hal” Westaway is struggling (and failing) to make ends meet. Since her mother Maggie’s death, Hal has taken over Maggie’s psychic storefront on the Brighton Pier, but the middle of winter doesn’t bring many people out to the pier.

With bill collectors hounding her mail and an unsavory type threatening worse than legal action, Hal is confused but very curious about the letter she just received. Mr. Treswick, a solicitor, sent a letter about the inheritance she is due from the death of her grandmother Hester Mary Westaway.

Hall knows that her mother’s parents passed away years before Hal was born so this woman could not be her grandmother. But this man thought Hal was someone else. Who was she to correct him?

Being very good at reading people, Hal knew things about people after only observing them for the briefest of moments, that is what made her so good at tarot readings. She knew she could pull off a ruse and get away with it. She knew she could fool these people and come away, hopefully, with enough money to pay her debts and get back on her feet. She could do it, but should she?   

After the funeral, Hal meets her “family” including Harding Westaway and his wife, Mitzi, Abel Westaway his partner Edward, and Ezra Westaway. Their sister, Maud apparently left home at age 18 and was never seen or heard from again. Then there was Mrs. Warren, the housekeeper, who had nothing but contempt for Hal from the very beginning, and she was almost as hateful to the rest of Mrs. Westaway’s children and grandchildren.

Although it took me a few pages to get into the story, once I did, I did not want to stop reading. It was a riveting storyline that kept me guessing throughout. There was no way to tell which of the characters Hal should trust if any of them. The story is told through the third person point of view, limited, with Hal being the only one that the narrator knows everything about. So the reader is never really sure if any of the others are trustworthy.

Abel is my favorite character. No matter what he has been through, he still has a good heart and he is quick to show that to Hal. These characters were quite authentic, even the dead Mrs. Westaway, whom we only hear about through Maggie’s diary and the not-so-happy reminiscing of the brothers. I liked the rawness and the fear that Hal showed; it made her seem that much more real. I also liked that no matter how much pain Abel suffered, he still found it in his heart to love others. I also found Mrs. Warren interesting because she was so very hateful to everyone there and I kept wondering what she had against a young girl she had never seen before.

I have never really been interested in Tarot or things of that nature. However, I did like that even though Hal and her mother made their living using them, neither believed in the truth of them, only that they show people what they want to see or believe.

I also really enjoyed reading about the pier at Brighton, except that it was winter and there was not much description for it. Trepassen House, however, I would have liked to have had a little more description of the grounds and the layout of the house. The book is definitely character driven, and the setting certainly takes a back seat. This is not a bad thing, but I like to play out the scenes in my head as I read.

This book, while marketed as a psychological thriller, is really at its heart a mystery, albeit a really well written one. The book is very easy to read, to understand and to follow. If you haven’t yet stuck your foot into the waters of psychological thrillers, this may not be the best choice, as I believe this is more of a mystery. However, it is a really well-written book and I highly recommend it as a mystery or general fiction.

This story kept me guessing right up until the very end. Ruth Ware is quite masterful at flipping the switch on you and taking you down a path you never really saw coming. There were moments when I felt like I might cry for Hal and everything that she has lost. But there may actually be hope at the end of her journey. I read this book, but it is narrated by Imogen Church, whom I really like, so I would also recommend the audio version.

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Book Details: 

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