Tag Archives: Suspense

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Ellery “Ellie” Hathaway has a few secrets. Some would destroy her career in the small, low-crime town of Woodbury, Massachusetts where she works as a police officer. Some would destroy the life she has made for herself over the past 14 years. Because 15 years ago she was not Ellery Hathaway, she was Abby Hathaway, who was abducted on her birthday and is the only survivor of serial killer Francis Michael Coben.

Now 28, she believes that the three people who have gone missing close to her birthday over the past three years are the work of someone who knows who she is. Someone who is taunting her, but the Chief of Police and the one detective on the force don’t see any connection – not even the Ellery connection – because they don’t know her secret.

Agent Reed Markham, however, does know her secret. He knows almost everything about it because Reed Markham is the agent who found her alive all those years ago. He is now all but washed-up after his last case; a case that he blew, leaving a little boy dead. But when Ellie calls him for help, he goes to her, but not officially. Ellery doesn’t concern herself with his mistakes. He saved her once. She is willing to put her hope in his hands to save her again before another person is taken during The Vanishing Season.

To be a relatively short novel, Schaffhausen included a good bit of information. The back story of Ellie and the Coben case is skillfully woven in among the details of the current case, giving just enough information to help lead the reader to a few details without giving away too much at one time.

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Ellie and Reed are both damaged. Ellie is damaged by the Coben case, obviously, and Reed by all of the cases on which he worked. They not only damaged him but is marriage as well. As he put it “I did not cheat on my wife with any live women…I saved the best parts of myself for the job.” So when I read about both of them I immediately had a strong desire to help them, keep them both safe, and see that they were both better at the end of this case. You’ll have to read the book to see if that happened.

This is a really good book by a new author and I look forward to any future books by her. Have any of you read it? If so, what do you think?

Book Details:

 

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. “Propensity to Discuss is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.”

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Wow. This was not at all what I was expecting, and it was really, really good and quite intense. Lane and her mother Camilla lived a very unhappy existence right up to the point When Camilla ends her own misery, sending Lane to live at Roanoke, the place her mother described as a nightmare.

It is at Roanoke that she meets her cousin Allegra, who looks so much like Lane and her mom, and also where she learns that all the Roanoke babies are girls and they all either leave forever or die very young at Roanoke. It is the Roanoke Curse. Ten years later Lane is one of those who left, but she is called back because Allegra, who would never leave on her own, is missing.

The chapters alternate between “Then,” which is about Lane’s time at Roanoke and “Now” which is ten years later, as well as brief excerpts from the thoughts and lives of other Roanoke girls. Through past and present, the stories of Lane, Allegra, and their grandparents (the grandfather who is doting and caring and the grandmother who is inattentive and aloof) come to life.

Lane knows something bad has happened to Allegra, there is the Roanoke Curse, after all, but she must muddle through her own issues which have shaped her past and continue to damage her present and, most likely, her future. Having known only bitterness and hatred from her mother, Lane has no way to understand, much less accept love and kindness, unless she can break the curse that has plagued their family for three generations.

This book, though not for the faint of heart, is extremely well-written and quite intense. Lane is emotionally scarred and psychologically traumatized even before she comes to Roanoke where secrets are what hold the family together. And oh the tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive. This story will shock most, but it really is a story of exactly what it takes to break the ties that bind in order to heal. I highly recommend this book.

Book Details:

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all“Propensity to Discuss is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

After reading Stillhouse Lake (my review) I ordered Killman Creek to be delivered on the day it published. Reading the second book in the series did not disappoint!

Spoiler Alert: If you have not read Stillhouse Lake this review has a couple of spoilers about that book.

This story begins 12 days after the previous book’s end with Gwen, Lanny, and Connor on the run again, but this time they are being helped by Sam. Knowing now that she was betrayed by someone she trusted, Gwen finds it harder to believe she can keep her kids safe.

She has decided that she will no longer hide or run from Melvin and those who want to find her for him. This time she is hunting them and him. She also realizes that in order to become the hunter she has to get Lanny and Connor safely tucked away with the only other people in the world she trusts: Javier and Kezia. The only drawback is that they are at Stillhouse Lake, so close to where their lives fell apart again 12 days before.

Once she has them settled (as much as they will settle without her) she and Sam head out to hunt for those who want to see her dead at the hand of Melvin Royal.

With the unofficial help of an FBI agent with whom Sams has a history, they begin tracking Absalom, whom they now know is not one person, but an entire network of people. And most of them are not only dangerous, many of them are deadly.

This conclusion to Stillhouse Lake did not disappoint. Even so, there were many times that I was so angry with some of the people involved. I was angry with almost all of them except Gwen at one point or another in the story. I wanted to knock some sense into their heads, but every reason that I had for being angry at them, they were not doing anything that others in that situation would have done. With all of the adults, their actions and reactions were justifiable and with Connor, it was extremely understandable, but that didn’t help me not get angry at them.

Once again Rachel Caine has given us a very well-written, very well-researched and very realistic novel that is sure to please readers who liked Stillhouse Lake.

This is not a series that you should read out of order. There are just too many things that you need to know from Stillhouse Lake to understand Killman Creek.

If you haven’t read Stillhouse Lake, I highly recommend both books but be warned, these are not for the faint of heart. There is a good bit of grit and gore in both books, so if you are sensitive to those things you may want to find another series. (click here for suggestions) But if you can handle it, read these books! They are well worth your time.

Book Details:

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all“Propensity to Discuss is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.”

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales is in a state of total confusion after she finds out that her husband has died in a car accident in Hawaii because he was supposed to be on a work trip to Kansas. Up until this point, Jacks thought she had a pretty good marriage. Sure there were issues, but every married couple argues, right? They had been together for 8 years and she had never once considered that he might have an affair. There has to be some mistake. James has to be in Kansas. The shock is compounded when she finds out James wasn’t alone. He was having an affair with a woman named Dylan, who also died in the accident.

Unable to deal with both the betrayal and the death at the same time, she is just vulnerable enough to accept the offer of Dylan’s fiancé Nick to go with him to Hawaii to try to discover what they had been doing there and to try to gain some semblance of closure.

While in Hawaii she and Nick are able to find out things they didn’t know and they also find some solace there. Jacks’ sister Beth just wants her to come home to heal, but Jacks knows she has to see this through if she is ever going to feel normal again.

With a twist that you may see coming and one that you may not see, this is a good book that I really enjoyed.

Jacks is a loving, caring, and sacrificing person that I truly hoped would find happiness again. I felt she deserved it and the more I read, the more I liked her and the more I pulled for her.

Nick is also devastated by the loss of Dylan and is so good with Jacks, making sure that she is comfortable and is able to handle everything that comes her way. He becomes her rock and together they are great at helping each other through a very difficult time

If you are looking for a good book and a quick read, check out The Good Widow. Not only the writing and the plot, but also the descriptions of Hawaii will make you want to jump on a plane, go there, and do all the excursions that are described. I love reading about new places and this was no exception. Beautifully descriptive and quite well-written.

Book Details:

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. “Propensity to Discuss is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.”

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

The day before Faith Winters’ 13th birthday Faith and her sister Kim headed to their family’s cabin and as Kim entered she was stabbed, but she was able to tell Faith to run. Faith ran, hid, and escaped, but the killers also murdered their father, Faith’s best friend Anna, and Anna’s mother. After bumbling the case, the local police ruled it a murder-suicide committed by their father, but Faith knew she had seen someone else there. A man she calls “Rat Face” because that is how he looked to Faith.

Ten years later Faith is in a mental facility. Her therapist believes she is suicidal, the police think she is crazy, and everyone else sees her as a drunk and a danger to herself and others. Faith just knows that every waking minute is spent reliving that horrible day.

Henryka Vasilyeva (Henry as Faith calls her) is a Federal agent who has been tasked with checking into Faith’s claim that she saw the killer. Even though the case is officially closed with the local police, Henry believes there is another murder that has similarities and she is willing to investigate further.

Just days before the anniversary of what Faith calls “Death Day” she is released from Brookstone Mental Hospital and sent back to Marshfield, where it all took place. There is no way for Faith to escape her past here, even more so since her psychologist mother has written a best-selling tell-all about Faith called “The Girl Who Lived.”

Leaving a bar in a drunken stupor she catches a glimpse of Rat-Face, though no one believes her because of the alcohol. Over the next few days, she is certain that the killer is watching and terrorizing her, but since everyone has read her mother’s book they all believe that she is extremely close to going insane.

With no one to trust, Faith believes she has to take matters into her own hands, which always gets her into precarious situations and she knows that time is running out for her one way or another.

This is a good book with a very interesting plot. I could immediately connect with Faith and felt deeply sorry for her. While she does some pretty risky things that always backfire on her, I don’t blame her for that, which is unusual for me. I generally want characters that are somewhat aware of what will happen if… However, with the scope of what Faith has encountered, that would go against her psyche as she is far too damaged to think beyond the here and now.

There is quite a large twist to this novel and I certainly did not see it coming. Grayson does a really good job of keeping you guessing about whom to trust and who the real villains are and that is one of the reasons that I really recommend this book.

Book Details:

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. “Propensity to Discuss is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.”

The Last Move by Mary Burton. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Last Move by Mary Burton

Six months ago FBI agent Dr. Kate Hayden arrested Charles Richardson in a case dubbed “The Samaritan Killer” whose victim’s cars were tampered with at gas stations along Interstate 35 so that the car would have to stop on the interstate. The killer would then stop to “help” and when the women lowered their windows, they would be shot in the heart. Now, with Richardson in jail, it has happened again and the killer sent a text to a cell phone that he left in the car with the message “Dr. Kate Hayden, you did not catch me.”

Theo Mazur, a detective with 18 years experience on the police force in Chicago, but a recent transplant to San Antonio is the detective who gets the case. He immediately calls Dr. Hayden to consult and work the case with him. Dr. Hayden is at the end of another case and she really wants to be there to arrest the killer but her boss sends her to work the copycat case to make sure Richardson is the actual Samaritan killer and that he did not have an accomplice.

Reading the book in 3rd person for everyone except for the killer, who is in 1st person, it is strongly suggested that this killer and Dr. Hayden share some kind of history, for which the killer wants justice or perhaps revenge. Hayden, who lived in San Antonio growing up is clearly unaware initially of any connection. The assumption is that the killer got her name from the press during the Richardson case.

With no new leads coming in, Kate is getting ready to head back to her previous case when another body is found mimicking yet another of Kate’s former cases. Now knowing this is personal, Kate realizes she must catch this killer because he will certainly strike again and next time, she may be the victim.

This book pulled me in quite quickly, especially when Agent Hayden came on board. She is very intelligent and very emotionally damaged from witnessing the ruthless murder of her father as a teenager. Detective Mazur can certainly hold his own in the intelligence department and has emotional baggage of his own, but his devotion to his daughter and his work ethic make him a very endearing character.

While there was one issue that was not fully resolved, it did not have any impact on the story and didn’t really lend anything to the plot and the book left a bit of room for a sequel, it isn’t a given, but if there is another book, this may play out further. Just have to wait and see.

So as crime novels go this one is pretty good and I do hope there are follow-up books with Hayden and Mazur. They are so easy to like and too good at their jobs not to catch more monsters. Also, throw in a little romance and the story gets even better.

The Last Move by Mary Burton

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. 

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

With a nostalgia that lends itself to The Breakfast Club, the novel One Of Us Is Lying opens with a detention starring familiar stereotypes:

  • Bronwyn Rojas is the typical brain who is involved in everything from student government to prom committee.
  • Cooper Clay is the jock with college and pro baseball scouts hot on his trail that everyone, from students to teachers to parents, love. He is the all-American boy-next-door.
  • Addy Prentiss is the beautiful blonde homecoming queen with the super hot boyfriend.
  • Nate McAuley is the druggie of the group. You know, the one that no one wants to claim to know.
  • Simon Kelleher is the typical nerd. He is also the one who spreads all the juicy gossip, especially if it will hurt someone.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. A Propensity to Discuss review.

All of the students in detention claim that they are there because they were framed. Someone slipped a phone into each of their backpacks to be found by a technophobic teacher everyone knows searches backpacks for phones, and they all still have their own phones. The story moves quickly to mayhem because before detention is even half over Simon is dead of an allergic reaction.

When the rest of the group is called in to answer a few questions from the police the mayhem begins to look like murder with Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy, and Nate all at the forefront of the list of suspects.

Simon, you see, had nasty gossip app called “About That” which he used to spread hurtful gossip about fellow Bayview High School students. Of the four suspects, only Nate has ever been called out on Simon’s app and that had to do with a drug arrest that is pretty much common knowledge. But they all have secrets that none of them would want to get out. Except the police don’t know about those, and if Simon had known, he surely would’ve used that against them already. Right?

So why in the world would any of them have murdered Simon? They have no motive, but that doesn’t stop the police from suspecting them. And since the police seem to have tunnel vision toward the four of them, Bronwyn knows they have to find out for themselves who really killed Simon, which may prove difficult since so many students who had been hurt by his gossip had plenty of reasons to hate him.

Karen McManus is quite the storyteller. She is a master of giving just enough information to lead you into the next twist only to bring you to the realization that you still don’t know the truth. For me, these leads and twists intensified my need to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story.

While I would not classify this as a psychological thriller, it does play mind games with you as you try to figure it all out what actually happened. You may get close to figuring it out, but as the story is told through the alternating points of view of each of the suspects, you are left with only what each character wants you to know or believe and finding out the truth about who did it is quite a shock.

As YA (Young Adult) novels go, this one is a bit lengthy and there is quite a bit to keep up with, but I really came to like and admire the characters. They have so much depth to them and are far more than what meets the eye.  – which I find true to life. So many stereotypical people I have gotten to know I’ve truly crushed my initial idea of them from their stereotype. It is the human equivalent of not judging a book by its cover. Don’t judge a person by their stereotype, get to know them or you never know what you are missing out on!

I highly recommend this book, not only to young adults but also to adults. It is a well-written story that covers issues that we see today often in the real world. People are scapegoats and are “convicted” by the media, their peers, and public opinion without anyone having all the facts or arrests, much less officially in a court of law. It certainly leaves you with a lot to ponder.

Book Details

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!