THE NIGHT BEFORE by WENDY WALKER

The Night Before

This story is told in dual timelines. The night before and the day after.

There is also a conversation from months ago with what looks to be her therapist. Laura is angry, self-destructive and obsessed with finding love.

We find out bits and pieces seen through the eyes of Laura as well as her sister Rose.

Laura grew up believing her father loved Rose more. And then he left. Is Laura simply not loveable? She has a pattern of falling for unavailable men and then exploding when they don’t commit. So when her latest relationship is over, she heads home to Rose and Joe. The first thing she does is sign up for a dating app. When she doesn’t come home after one date, Rose isn’t sure who she is more frightened for. Laura or John.

As Rose, Joe and best bud, Gabe search for Laura, long-buried secrets come bubbling to the surface. Did any of them really know the others? The past seen through the eyes of all of them is quite different. But who is right?

This one sent me in so many different directions! It was like trying to untie a complicated knot! There were secrets inside of secrets and when it all came to a head at the end I was left sitting there with my mouth hanging open! What???

Netgalley/ May 14th 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

 

The EAST END by JASON ALLEN *Blog Tour*

The East End

Life is different in the Hamptons. The uber wealthy come in the summer turning the locals lives upside down.

Told through Leo Sheffield’s voice, the wealthy and successful owner of the enormous beach house and a man with a huge secret! Married to a shrew of a woman who treats the locals horribly.

Gina and her son Corey have worked for the Sheffield’s during the season for a lot of years. There voices are also heard. Corey just wants out of here. He’s a smart young man frustrated with life. His mother is on pills and booze, slaving away for the posh Sheffields and her soon to be ex is a bully and a drug addict.

Through Gina’s voice we see the mistakes she’s made. How she really wants to be a better mother and get clean. She has had a lot on her plate and I wasn’t sure she could take what was to come.

Corey has a hobby. He likes to break into the mansions at night and do nothing but maybe pour salt in the milk. It’s a thrill. It’s something to do. Until the one night he breaks into the Sheffield’s home and suddenly there’s a dead man, a coked up man acting crazy and only he knows that Tiffany Sheffield and her bestie, Angelique, are passed out in the house. When one of them walks out on the balcony to a grisly scene, Leo tries to explain, but he’s looking awful and acting crazy.

The next few days will change all of their lives and expose the true character of Gina, Leo and Corey.

I was invested with the characters right away. This story does detail the gap between the haves and the have-nots.  Everyone in here was messed up in some way and my heart hurt for them all. And the ending? BOOM!

Debut Novel? Outstanding!

NetGalley/  May 7th 2019 by Park Row

Thanks to Mr. Allen and Park Row / Harper Collins for this Excerpt of this Debut!

THE EAST END

Jason Allen

Blog Tour Excerpt

After sunset, Corey Halpern sat parked at a dead end in Southampton with his headlights off and the dome light on, killing time before the break-in. As far as he knew, about a quarter mile up the beach the owners of the summerhouse he’d been casing for the past two weeks were busy playing host, buzzed from cocktails and jabbering beside the pool on their oceanfront deck, oblivious that a townie kid was about to invite himself into their mansion while they and their guests partied into the night.

Smoke trailed up from the joint pinched between Corey’s thumb and forefinger as he leaned forward and picked up a wrinkled sheet of paper from the truck floor. He smoothed out his final high school essay, squinting through the smoke-filled haze to read his opening lines:

In the Hamptons, we’re invaded every summer. The mansions belong to the invaders, and aren’t actual homes—not as far as the locals are concerned. For one thing, they’re empty most of the year.

The dome light flicked off and he exhaled in semidarkness, thinking about what he’d written. If he didn’t leave this place soon, he might never get out. Now that he’d graduated he could make his escape by taking a stab at college in the fall, but that would mean leaving his mother and brother behind, which for many reasons felt impossible, too abstract, the world outside this cluster of towns on the East End so unimaginably far away….

 

If only he could write as he saw things, maybe this place wouldn’t be so bad, though each time he’d put pen to paper and tried to describe these solo hours at the ocean, or anything else, the words remained trapped behind locked doors deep inside his head. Sitting on his heels, he reached up and pressed the faint bruise below his right eye, recalling the fight last weekend with that kid from North Sea and how each of them had been so quick to throw punches…

_________________________________________________________________________

A few miles later, with Iggy Pop and The Stooges blaring from his door panel, it made perfect sense to take the night to a whole new level and rob his mother’s bosses before they came out from the city; before Gina came home crying after one of the longer, more grueling workdays; before he joined her for the summer as the Sheffields’ servant boy. Iggy reinforced the necessity of the much higher risk mission—the need to do it now—as he belted out one of his early-seventies punk anthems, the lyrics to “Search and Destroy” entering Corey’s brain and seeping much deeper inside his chest as a truth he’d never been able to articulate for himself. His fingers tapped steadily on the wheel when he turned off Main.

He drove slowly for another block or two, his pulse beating in his neck as he turned left at the pyramid of cannonballs and the antique cannon on the edge of town. A couple blocks later, he downshifted around the bend, rolled to a stop and parked beside a wooded section of Gin Lane. From there he didn’t hesitate at all. He hustled along the grass bordering the roadside, past hedgerows and closed gates and dark driveways, until the Sheffields’ driveway came into view. A life-size pair of stone lions sat atop wide stone bases and bookended the entrance, two males with full manes and the house number chiseled onto their chests. Corey knew the lions held a double meaning. His mom’s boss put these statues out here partly because they looked imposing, the type of decorations kings used to choose, but also because they stood as symbols of August birthdays, the same astrological sign as Mr. Sheffield’s first name—Leo.

He stood still for a moment, looking between the bars of the tall iron gates crowned with spikes. Beginning tomorrow morning, and then all throughout Memorial Day weekend— just as he had the past few summers—he’d spend long days working there. Gina would be so pissed if she could see him now. She’d at least threaten to disown him if she ever found out he’d broken in, but that would be a hollow threat anyway, and he’d already convinced himself that she’d never know. The Sheffields should have paid her more to begin with, even if she didn’t have a deadbeat husband like Ray pissing her meager savings away on his court fees and gambling debts. But the memory that sealed Corey’s decision tonight had been replaying in his mind for almost a year—the dinner party last summer, when Sheila Sheffield yelled at his mom right in front of him and about ten guests, berating her for accidentally dropping a crystal chalice that she said cost more than Gina’s yearly salary. While Leo and the grown Sheffield kids looked on dumbly and didn’t bother to make a peep, Corey had followed Gina into the kitchen and stood a few feet away from her, unable to think of what to say to console her while she cried. Ever since then, he’d wanted to get back at them all.

Fuck these people, he thought.

He would rob them, and smash some windows on his way out so they wouldn’t suspect anyone who worked there. All he had to do was make sure not to leave any evidence behind, definitely no fingerprints, and he’d take the extra precaution of scaling the gates rather than punching in the code.

He wriggled his fingers into his gloves. Crickets chirped away in the shadows, his only witnesses as he looked over each shoulder and back through the bars. He let out a long breath. Then he gripped the wrought iron and started to climb.

Moonlight splintered between the old oak branches and cut across his body like blades. It took only a few seconds to grapple up the bars, though a bit longer to ease over the spear-like tips while he tried to shut out a nightmare image of one of them skewering his crotch. Relieved when his legs reached the other side unharmed, he shimmied down the bars like a monkey and dropped, suddenly hidden from the outside world by the thick hedge wall. Poised on one knee, he turned to his left and scanned the distant mansion’s dark windows, the eaves and gables. The perfectly manicured lawn stretched for acres in all directions, a few giant oaks with thick limbs and gnarled trunks the only natural features between the faraway pines along the property line and a constellation of sculptures. A scattered squad of bronze chess pieces stood as tall as real-life soldiers, with two much larger pieces towering behind them—a three-ton slab of quartz sitting atop a steel column and a bright yellow Keith Haring dog in mid stomp on its hind legs, each the size of an upended school bus or the wing of a 747, all the sculptures throwing sharp shadows across the lawn when Corey rose to his feet, leapt forward and ran toward the Sheffields’ sprawling vacation home.

His sneakers crunched along the pebble driveway, his steps way too loud against the quiet until he made it across the deeper bed of beach stones in the wide parking area and passed through an ivy-covered archway, still at top speed while he followed the curved path of slate down a gentle slope, and then pulled up at the corner of the porch. Breathing heavily, he grappled up the post and high-stepped onto the railing, wiping sweat from his forehead when he turned to face Agawam Lake. The moon’s light came ladling down onto the water like milk and trailed into the darkness of the far shore, while in the reeds beside the nearest willow tree a pair of swans sat still as porcelain, sleeping with their bills tucked at their breasts.

No one will know, he thought. The crickets kept making a soft racket in the shadows. The swans seemed like another good omen. But then a light went on inside one of the mansions directly across the water, and Corey pulled his body up from the railing, thinking he should get inside before someone saw him. He quickly scaled the corner porch beam and trellis while trying to avoid the roses’ thorns, even as they snagged his sleeves and pant legs. Then, like a practiced rock climber, in one fluid motion he hoisted himself from the second-story roof up to the third-floor gable. He crouched there, looking, listening. The house across the water with the light on was too far away to know for sure, but he didn’t see any obvious signs of anyone watching from the picture windows. Probably just some insomniac millionaire sipping whiskey and checking the numbers of a stock exchange on the other side of the world.

Confident that he should press on, Corey half stood from his crouch and took the putty knife from his back pocket to pry open the third-story bathroom window, the one he’d left unlatched the previous day when he’d come there with his mother. The old window sash fought him with a friction of wood on wood, but after straining for a few seconds he managed to shove the bottom section flush with the top, and was struck immediately by the smells of Gina’s recent cleaning— ammonia, lemon and jasmine, the chemical blend of a freshly scoured hospital room. Balanced at the angle of the roof, he stared down at the neighboring properties once more. Still no sounds, no lights, no signs that anyone had called the cops, so he turned and stretched his arms through the window and shimmied down until he felt the toilet lid with both gloved hands and his sneakers left the shingles, all his weight sliding against the sill as he wriggled in.

Although he hadn’t been sure whether he’d ever go through with it, he’d plotted this burglary for weeks, the original iteration coming to him during Labor Day weekend last year. The first step had been to ask Gina if he could clean the Sheffield house with her for a few extra bucks before the summer season began. She’d raised an eyebrow but agreed, approving at least of her teenager’s out-of-character desire to work, and throughout the past week, whenever she’d left him to dust and vacuum the third floor, he’d had his chance to run recon and plan the point of entry. He knew she wouldn’t bother to check the latch on a closed window three stories off the ground, not after she’d scrubbed and ironed and Pledged all day. And more important, by then he knew those upper-floor windows had no seal-break sensors. He knew this because a few days earlier he’d left this very same window open before Gina armed the alarm, and afterward nothing happened—no blaring sounds before they pulled away, no call or drive-by from a security officer. So tonight, again, the security company wouldn’t see any flashing red lights on their computer screens. Not yet anyway, not until he smashed a window downstairs and staged a sloppy burglary scene on his way out.

Despite knowing that nobody would be out till Friday, his footsteps were all toe as he crept from the dark bathroom and into the hazy bluish hall, and yet, even with all this effort to tread lightly, the old floorboards still strained and creaked each time his sneakers pressed down. Trailing away from him, a black-and-white series of Ansel Adams photos hung in perfect rows, one on either side of the hall, hundreds of birch trees encased in glass coverings that Corey had just recently Windexed and wiped. Every table surface and light fixture and the entire length of the floor gleamed, immaculate, too clean to imagine the Sheffields had ever even set foot in here, let alone lived here for part of the year. He’d always felt the house had a certain coldness to it, and thought so again now, even though it had to be damn near eighty degrees inside with all the windows closed.

After slowly stepping down one set of stairs, Corey skulked along the second-floor hall, past the doorway to Mr. and Mrs. Sheffields’ master bedroom and then past Andy’s and Clay’s rooms, deciding to browse Tiffany’s bedroom first, his favorite room in the house. The Sheffields’ only daughter had a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf full of hardcover novels, stage plays and poetry collections, a Super 8 projector, stacked film reels and three antique cameras. He’d spent as much time as possible in this room during his previous workdays, mainly staring at the paintings mounted on three of the walls, and now lingered once more looking at each textured image, surprised all over again that a rich girl had painted these shades of pain, these somber expressions on the faces of dirty figures in shabby clothes, compositions of suffering he’d have expected from a city artist teetering between a rat-hole apartment and a cardboard box in an alley. They all had something, that’s for sure, but one portrait had always spoken to him much more than any of the others. He stood before it and freed it from its hook.

At the window he noticed the light had gone off at the mansion across the lake and figured the insomniac must have drunk enough for sleep. Although he knew he shouldn’t, he flicked on Tiffany’s bedside table light to get a better look at the girl in the painting, her brown eyes, full lips, caramel skin, her black hair flowing down to divots between her collarbone and chest. He knew Tiffany had painted it, but also that it wasn’t a self-portrait. She looked nothing like the girl she’d painted. Anorexically skinny, Tiffany had dyed-blond hair and usually wore too much makeup. In one photo with her parents and two older brothers, while the rest of the family had dressed in country club attire, she had on a tank top and frayed jean shorts, dark sunglasses, the only one of them with any tattoos, the only one barefoot on the grass.

Corey searched her shelves until he found the photo of Tiffany’s best friend, the girl from the painting, Angelique. He’d seen her at the estate plenty during the previous summers, and last Labor Day weekend they’d talked many times, their conversations lasting longer and seeming to have more depth until finally he summoned the courage to ask her out. Her long pause had made him wish he could disappear, and then those four awful words, I have a boyfriend, had knocked the wind out of him just before he nodded with his eyes to the ground and walked away. Reliving the disappointment, he killed the lamplight and lay on the bed with her photo on his chest, and then, stupidly, closed his eyes…

 

Excerpted from The East End by Jason Allen, Copyright © 2019 by Jason Allen. Published by Park Row Books.  Jason Allen author photo 1_c Jim Glasgow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE INVITED BY JENNIFER McMAHON

The Invited

A multi-generational ghost story?? Yes, please!

The chills started early in this wickedly clever ghost story. The woods of Vermont are where Helen and Nate have decided to build their dream home. Leaving behind their teaching positions in Connecticut and taking a giant leap of faith in their own abilities and knowledge. Helen’s father was in building and she is no stranger to building sites. There is even an abandoned trailer on the property next to a bog where they can live while they build a home.

But not everyone wants them there. The last woman who built her home here was hung as a witch and her daughter never found. As a history teacher, Helen is intrigued and soon obsessed with Hattie Breckenridge and her story. And when she begins scouting supplies for their home, she finds a beam made from the tree they hung Hattie from and brings it home. Along with Hattie. And she needs help. But will helping her endanger Helen and Nate?

Is Hattie’s family cursed to all die violent deaths? Maybe a twelve-year-old girl holds the key to this mystery or maybe she will be the next to die.

This author never disappoints me. I was prepared to be scared out of my mind by the cover. And I was not disappointed. I also will not be taking walks in the woods anytime soon!

Well Done!

Netgalley/April 30th 2019 by Doubleday

 

 

 

 

Saving Meghan by D.J.Palmer

I was very excited to receive this in the mail last week. Along with a holographic bookmark that depending on which way you tilt it either says, “It’s all real” or “It’s all in your head”. Very cool. Instructions from St. Martin’s were to share and read with the hashtags  #ProtectMeghan or #BelieveBecky.

All of my favorite thriller authors were endorsing it and I could not wait to jump in!

Can you love someone to death? 

On the outside looking in, Becky Gerard looks like a mother who will do anything she can to find out what is wrong with her 15-year-old daughter, Meghan.

Meghan Gerard has had a host of unexplainable symptoms and ailments that have become so bad, she has dropped out of her beloved soccer and become basically a shut in at home.

Carl Gerard has just about had it with his wife and daughter. He believes there is nothing wrong with Meghan and that Becky is just seeking attention and suffering from the wounds of her own dysfunctional mother.

Then Meghan’s symptoms take a turn for the worst and while one doctor thinks he knows the cause, the hospital thinks Becky has Munchausen syndrome, leaving them with no choice but to remove Meghan from their home and putting her in the hospital.

While Becky, Carl and the courts battle it out, Meghan is determined to get out of the hospital and defend her mother. But Meghan isn’t so innocent here. She has secrets too. But whose secrets will get them killed?

I was back and forth between Becky did it and Meghan is nuts. The thing is that not a single character in this thriller was innocent of wrongdoing. Everyone had their own agenda. Everyone was keeping secrets. Wickedly Twisty, it was a page turner! Smart, fast paced and just enough seeds of doubt to have you guessing and re-guessing!

Well Done!

St. Martin’s Press April 9,2019

 

The Last Second (A Brit in the FBI #6) By Catherine Coulter and J.T.Ellison

The Last Second (A Brit in the FBI, #6)

From New York Times bestselling authors Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison comes a riveting thriller pitting special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine against a private French space agency that has the power to end the world as we know it.

Former NASA astronaut, Dr. Nevaeh Patel, was grounded when on a spacewalk off the ISS, her tether snapped and she made contact with the Numen, an alien race that wants her to tell the earth about them. So she does and is grounded for good with a psychiatric report that will keep her grounded. Angry, and frustrated, she finds Galactus, a private space agency owned by the uber rich Jean-Pierre Broussard.

Patel finds that he is also seeking a treasure, the Holy Grail and instantly understands the Numen want her to possess it and quiet the heavens so that they may come to her and teach the world peace and be immortal. But one must be worthy of the stone. An important catch.

While Broussard is off retrieving the Holy Grail, or Heavens Stone, Patel launches a communications satellite. Only this satellite is carrying a nuclear triggered EMP which when triggered will take out all of the satellites and leave the world in chaos.

When Agents Caine and Drummond are brought in they are in a big time crunch. One that may see them be too late to stop the world descending into chaos.

This Brit in the FBI series is one of my favorites. These two put you on the edge of your seat from the beginning and it’s a fast and thrilling ride to the end. I personally lost two fingernails to this book!

Coulter and Ellison can take an idea that is definitely possible and create something that will scare you for many nights to come. That is what I love. This could happen and what if it did? Well I hope that Drummond and Caine and all their cohorts are here for us too!

Another very well done thriller!

Netgalley/ March 26th 2019 by Gallery Books

 

YOU FIT THE PATTERN by JANE HASELDINE

You Fit The Pattern

A Julia Gooden Mystery

Julia is back! Crime writer Julia Gooden has finished her book on her brother’s abduction and murder when he was a child. And she has helped put his killer behind bars. It’s a good story, but her editor wants more emotion and Julia isn’t sure she wants to do that.

She’s not letting that get in the way of investigating other crimes. Someone is abducting women joggers and leaving them dead in empty churches with cryptic drawings in their hands. And all wearing the same dress. The exact dress Julia wore at a police function with her boyfriend Ray Navarro once.

As Julia digs into the case she gets a call from the killer himself. He wants to be famous and he wants her to make him famous by writing his story. He’ll even give her little clues to the next murder. As the case evolves Julia and the police come to understand that this one is personal. That Julia is the intended last victim. But why? And who is this person?

This is one of my favorite series. Julia is no one’s victim and Ray has no intentions of her being one.

There were some really good new characters in this one and a lot of misdirection which had me over thinking everyone.
That’s good!

Well Done! A big thank you to Kensington and the author for a copy.

 March 26th 2019 by Kensington Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

BETWEEN THE LIES by MICHELLE ADAMS

Between the Lies

What would you do if you woke up and didn’t know who you were?

Within the first few pages of this thriller you just know it’s going to be good!

Chloe Daniels wakes up in a hospital bed having no idea how she got there, who she is or who these people calling themselves family are. Very scary.

Back in her parents home she struggles to remember what happened to her and as she snatches glimpses of her past she begins to believe her family are telling some pretty bad lies. What was she running from that night her car crashed? Even the police seem suspicious of the circumstances.

When she discovers one of the cruelest lies she has been told, she sets out to find the truth about who she was and who she can trust.

I felt so horrible for Chloe. She honestly had no one in her corner. And what a psychological thriller it was. I had no idea that ending was coming!

Another job well done!

Netgalley/St.Martin’s Griffin  March 05, 2019