My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"This, I think, is the cost of telling, even in the guise of fiction--once you do, it's the only thing about you anyone will ever care about. It defines you whether you want it to or not."
This book is dark, twisted, and raw. It delves into a topic that many writers shy away from, but Kate Elizabeth Russell dives completely in to tell a poignant, dark tale of a woman haunted by abuse.
When Vanessa gets involved with her teacher, Mr. Strane, she is led down a twisty path of lies, abuse, and betrayal that will mark the rest of her life. This book is a raw look inside the mind of an abused woman who spends much of her life denying the abuse. It's about the confusion girls face when abused and the darkness that can mar one's life if they don't find help and healing.
I found this book to be uncomfortable to read at times--which I think is the point. So many books shy away from the gritty, ugliness of abuse, especially in a power dynamic like this one. Russell digs into the description, the confusing emotions, and the uncomfortable scenes in a way few books do. She goes to a dark place in order to show the truth about how abuse and sexual assault can really change a woman.
I found this book to be revolutionary and brave in its portrayal. I know many women may be triggered by this book, so it isn't for everyone. However, I think this book makes an important statement about abuse, victims, and how difficult it is to move on from trauma.
In addition, Russell's writing style is beautiful, despite the ugly topic. She paints words in a way that will stick with you.
I will be looking for more work from this author because I appreciate the fact that she doesn't censor her writing and is willing to write a book that other authors would shy away from.
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The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter
There’s just something about reading a diary that is intriguing, at least from my perspective.
Growing up, I loved the Dear America series, which were diaries told from girls in different points throughout history. I loved feeling like I was in on a secret or really getting to know the main character.
When The Diary of a Serial Killer’s Daughter first came to mind, I was nervous about the diary format. Could I pull off an entire thriller in diary style? There were a lot of challenges that I would face…but still, the idea was intriguing.
For one, I haven’t read any thrillers in purely diary format. I liked the idea of doing something different. I’m always looking for a challenge in my writing, too.
So even though it seemed intimidated, I decided to go for it. And I have to say, I’m happy with the final product. The diary format really gives you a different vantage point of the thriller story line. It puts you right in there, on the front line with Ruby. It also lets you see a sense of honesty that you don’t always get from the characters in a traditional book.
It gives you a deep, insightful peek into the mind of a girl living in an unthinkable situation.
I can’t wait to share Ruby’s diary with you and her story on March 12th. If you’re not sure if the diary format is for you, use this link to download a free sample of the first portion of the book. I want you to love it before you buy it and make sure it’s really for you.
Stay Safe and Be True,
Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This twisted book is one that will haunt you long after you close it.
This dark tale tells the story of a couple going on the trip of their dreams. However, when they meet another couple on the train, they are forced down a sinister path that will change their lives and haunt them forever.
I liked how this book played with chronology. Just before the absolutely horrible thing happens to the couple....the author flashes forward and you get to see the fallout from the horrific events. However, you're left trying to figure out exactly what happened to Daniel and Laura.
Once you find out exactly what happened to the couple in the woods in Romania, you aren't disappointed: you are horrified. The secret they are keeping is extremely dark. This book is not for the weak-stomached.
I loved how there were multiple layers and twists to the story. It was a complex plot pulled off in an exceptional manner. This book is the thing of nightmares, and it really makes you understand how secrets can haunt you.
I would recommend this book to any fans of dark thriller or horror. It has a Stephen King meets Ruth Ware vibe to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought the characters were well-developed and the plot was revealed at a perfect pace.
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Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"You were not made to be small."
This book came into my life at the perfect time. I was feeling unmotivated and lacking enthusiasm. Rachel Hollis's book helped me change my attitude and get re-motivated to chase all of my dreams.
I'm not usually one for self-help books, but Rachel Hollis approaches self-help in a light, conversational way. It doesn't feel like she's lecturing you or on a soap box. To me, it felt like she was just providing real stories about herself and giving lessons she learned along the way. As an overachiever and a writer, I totally related to many of her chapters, especially the chapter about "No" and the chapter about writing.
There were so many great quotes that I actually have on my mirror now to keep me inspired. Rachel helped me cut through the distractions and self-doubt that had been pervading my mind in order to achieve my goals. This book really was what I needed to re-start my passion for my dreams.
I highly recommend this book to anyone feeling uninspired or down about their dreams. It really is eye-opening, and she has chapters that would speak to any woman in any walk of life.
Thank you, Rachel, for helping me remember why I was chasing my dreams and that "no" isn't an acceptable answer when it comes to dream chasing.
~USA Today Bestselling Author, L.A. Detwiler
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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This disturbing, horrifying read is one that will stick with me for a long time.
I flew through the pages from the very beginning. The distinct voice of the narrator, a simple yet engaging syntax, and a chilling idea sucked me into this book.
I loved that it focused on a husband and wife "team." They were both eerie in their own right--but combined, they were a couple I won't soon forget. This is one of those books where you find yourself sometimes rooting for the villain, which is horrifying in its own right. I loved that the author took a seemingly normal family and let us see into the far-from-normal aspects of their lives.
The plot was believable and chilling. I found the ending to be a bit rushed, but I still liked it a lot. I felt like it was realistic but also creepy in its own right. This is a great book for anyone who likes serial killer stories, dark novels, and female villains. I highly recommend this dark thriller and can't wait to read the author's next book.
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Do you love dark thrillers? Click below to get a FREE sample of the USA TODAY Bestselling novel, The Widow Next Door
Atwood's The Testaments will make you see Gilead in a new light
That can't be the ending....
This was my stunned reaction to The Handmaid's Tale back in my senior year of high school. I was devastated that I would never get to see how June's story would end. Was she betrayed? Did she find a better life? The questions have haunted me for years, just like the chilling world Atwood created.
So when The Testaments released last week, I was thrilled to be able to get some answers and see more of Gilead. There is always a fear going into a sequel that it won't hold up to the first novel, but Atwood has had so many decades to think about her sequel. I should have known, too, that the amazingly talented writer wouldn't disappoint.
I flew through The Testaments as fast as possible, once again enveloped by the chilling, haunting world of female depravity that is Gilead. However, The Testaments goes deeper into Gilead and gives new perspectives of the world. The book focuses on the Aunts instead of the Handmaids, which gives a new view of power, lies, and deception in the corrupt, failing world.
I'm amazed by Atwood's attention to detail in her world building. Every question is truly answered, and every intricacy is handled with expert prose. This book gives a deeper look into the inner workings of the society and also at how it began.
Told from three different perspectives in testimony/diary format, the book weaves together three influential women in Gilead. I won't tell you who they are because I don't want to spoil anything. Just know that they have strong voices, intriguing stories, and plenty of secrets to divulge.
This book isn't filled with crazy twists or even a lot of action. It is told instead of shown, but I found that fitting for this eerie world. The distant feel of the narrator's added to the creepy quality of the world and underscored how Gilead is falling in this book.
I know many readers are wondering: Will we see June in this sequel? I won't give anything away, but I will say two things:
1. She is not a focus in this story. This is the story of other women.
2. You will see references to her....
I will say I was very disappointed in the final chapter. It did not leave me on a cliffhanger, which I appreciated (I can't wait another 10+ years to get more answers like last time...). However, the last chapter was stiff and dull, at least in my opinion. I understand Atwood's point in the final chapter. I just would have liked to have seen a more poignant end to this heartbreaking, powerful, and haunting story.
Overall, The Testaments is definitely worth the read for anyone who is a fan of The Handmaid's Tale. It didn't ruin the future seasons of the show on Hulu, either. If anything, I'm even more excited to see them.
Have you read the book? Drop me a comment below or head over to my Facebook and connect with me. I'd love to hear from you!
Love thrillers with crazy twists? You need to read 'Sometimes I Lie'
"A lot of people think I have a dream job, but nightmares are dreams too."
Wow, wow, wow! 'Sometimes I lie' is an intense, dark thriller that just takes you down a rabbit hole of confusion, despair, secrets, and amazing twists! Just when you think you figured this book out, it hits again.
The book is told from the perspective of Amber who is in a coma and cannot respond. She is trying to figure out what happened to her and the secrets her loved ones are keeping, especially her husband and sister. The book then flashes back to the week before Amber was in a coma as well as Diary entries from childhood.
The book is packed with all sorts of amazing, jaw-dropping twists and turns. The one took me a while to wrap my head around....because it fooled me entirely! I love that this book is good, but just keeps getting better and better as you learn that nothing is what you thought it was.
This book, overall, is about family loyalty, the bond of sisters, and how secrets can tear us apart. I thought the first person perspective from someone in a coma was eerie in its own right. The book definitely gets darker as you read, so be prepared. I also thought that the main character had a strong, clear voice and development.
This book really blew my mind. I will be looking for more books from Alice Feeney, for sure.
The one book you need to read if you think you're an expert on the BTK killer
What if you found out your father was a serial killer?
This is the question at the heart of the book "A Serial Killer's Daughter" by Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the infamous BTK killer.
There are so many documentaries, movies, and books on the horrific crimes of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer who bound, tortured, and killed ten victims, including two children. However, he got away with his crime spree for over thirty years and had a wife, a son, and a daughter who had no idea that their father was another man entirely.
This book is told from Kerri Rawson's perspective, and it is a raw, genuine, honest look at the man who was her father... and how her world crashed down when the news broke. This book, however, doesn't focus on the man the media focused on. It focused on the man who was her father. It gives insight into how Dennis Rader was able to compartmentalize the two sides of his personality.
Kerri goes into great detail about her life with her father and family. She doesn't seem to sugarcoat anything and really takes the reader on her journey through growing up, through betrayal, through guilt, and through recovery. She gives you a very different vantage point of true crime, one that few really stop to think about.
It's impossible not to put yourself in Kerri's shoes as you read. She takes something almost none of us could ever understand and helps us understand just a little bit more. You feel for her as she struggles with reconciling the man who did evil things with the man she knew her whole life.
I admire her bravery for telling her tale and for showing the other side of her father, the one few of us recognize. It is easy to make serial killers out to be purely evil monsters, but she reminds us that the lines between good and evil are sometimes murky.
I clearly cannot speak from experience and do not claim to speak for the victims' families, but I did feel that Kerri did a good job at handling the delicate subject matter with raw honesty and with sensitivity. I could see how some might argue it glorified her father and mitigated what he did. However, I didn't get that sense at all. I felt like she admitted his faults and recognized the pain he caused while also expressing the truth--the man she knew was different from the man known as BTK.
In an unexpected way, the book also instills a sense of hope. Kerri reveals how she was able to find her way to light from the darkness. She is a true survivor and has a story that could instill hope in others dealing with betrayal, lies, secrets, and difficult times.
The writing is excellent and emotional. I recommend this book for anyone interested in true crime because you get to see a different side to the story and understand that a criminal's family, in many ways, falls under the victim category as well.
5 stars for this raw, powerful memoir.
BOOK REVIEW OF THE CHILLING THRILLER,"SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE"
For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.
In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.
Michele Campbell's "She Was the Quiet One" features a haunting, rich setting perfect for a twisted thriller.
When twins Rose and Bel are sent to live with their wealthy grandmother after being orphaned, their lives take a turn down a twisted journey of secrets, betrayal, and deceit. Sent to a private school, their lives will take two different paths that will lead to all sorts of questions and horrifying events.
The book also follows Sarah and Heath, the new heads of the dorm at Odell Academy. The couple seems perfect from the outside--responsible, smart, kind--but they just may have secrets of their own.
I loved the setting of this story and how it really played up the events. I also really enjoyed reading from the different perspectives and trying to piece the story together. This story wasn't super shocking with tons of twists. However, the suspense and thrill of it comes from knowing that doom is lurking and wondering if family loyalty will overpower lust, secrets, and the need for power. I really liked Rose's character and felt for her throughout the story.
I felt that the ending was well-planned out and didn't feel rushed like in some thrillers. As a side note, I also really like the newer cover because it captures the eerie feel of the book perfectly. This book is heavy on developed characters and relationships while having an exciting, believable plot working against a complex setting.
I really enjoyed this book and will be reading more from the author.
SISTERS AND SECRETS: 'MY SISTER IS MISSING' IS THE INTENSE THRILLER YOU NEED NOW
"Maybe the saying means you can go home, you just shouldn't."
My Sister is Missing is a tense thriller filled with realism, emotion, and twists. I found that I flew through this read because I had to know what happened.
The book follows Emily, who has recently returned to her hometown to visit her sister. Her sister has a secret, but before she can tell Emily what it is, she goes missing. Emily is left caring for her niece and nephew while trying to sort through what happened to her sister.
I loved the focus on the sisterly bond in this book, which I feel was woven expertly throughout the tale. I also loved the overall idea of returning home and dealing with issues from the past. Emily is not a perfect character, and it is because of her flaws that I found her very easy to relate to and like.
I found the plot to be exciting. It was perfectly paced and had a balance between focusing on emotional introspection in the first-person voice and action. I was extremely curious about how it would all play out, and the ending didn't disappoint. I loved the twists and turns and was very satisfied with the ending.
The book definitely had the feel of Sharp Objects meets Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, two of my favorite books. Lynch expertly weaves together a character, setting, and problem in a way that pulls the reader in and makes them root for the protagonist. Overall, this book was packed with emotion and realism, making it a standout in its genre.
I will definitely be reading more works from this talented author.
Check out more about this book on Goodreads.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door