Book Review: No Exit

No Exit pictureNo Exit by Taylor Adams

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

Review:
I loved the premise of this book. Darby sees a girl trapped in the back of a van during a snowstorm. There are 4 other people trapped with her in a rest stop. She doesn’t know who to trust or what she should do. Will she put herself in danger to save this girl?
There are some typical tropes, such as a timeline, a dying cell phone, isolation, etc. Still, there are some great twists that keep Darby, and the reader, on our toes.
Darby was an interesting character. She’s got her guilt and her flaws — she’s trying to rush home to mend fences with her ill mother. She says herself how selfish she is. I enjoyed the way she talked to herself and decided what she would do. I also liked how smart and creative she was (though she did have moments of being not so smart too).
The counting down timeline and the tension made for a great read and had me racing through this book. If you are looking for a fun thriller, this is a good one.
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Book Review: All That’s Bright and Gone

All That's Bright and GoneAll That’s Bright and Gone: A Novel by Eliza Nellums

Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family.

I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.

Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.

Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will?

Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world.

Review:
This was an interesting book. Told from 6 year old Aoife’s point of view, we learn about her mother’s mental illness, the struggles of her family, and the loss of her brother. Aoife isn’t exactly an unreliable narrator, but definitely one with limited understanding, which makes the story all that more interesting.
Because the story is told from a child’s point of view, the narrative is honest, innocent, and can often make interesting leaps. Aoife knows that her brother is dead, does not question her mother’s strange behaviour, and has an imaginary friend.
Nellums does a great job of getting into the head of a six year old. The writing feels authentic and not at all condescending. I found myself drawn into this girl’s world, trying to solve the mystery with her. As an adult reader we can see how Aoife is interpreting or misinterpreting some of the adult behaviour and this definetly adds to the tension and suspense of the book. We, like Aoife, just want to find out what really happened to her brother.
Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the review copy.
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Book Review: Woman on the Edge

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

A moment on the platform changes two lives forever. But nothing is as it seems…

‘Take my baby.’

In a split second, Morgan’s life changes forever. A stranger hands her a baby, then jumps in front of a train.

Morgan has never seen the woman before and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life.

When the police question Morgan, she discovers none of the witnesses can corroborate her version of events. And when they learn Morgan longs for a baby of her own, she becomes a suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically tries to retrace the last days of the woman’s life. She begins to understand that Nicole Markham believed she and her baby were in danger. Now Morgan might be in danger, too.

Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia?

Or was something much darker going on?

Pulse-pounding, heartrending, shocking, thrilling. This is one book you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

Review:

This psychological thriller by Samantha M Bailey was a fun, page turning book that definitely kept me on the edge.
The story alternates between Morgan in the present, who has just had a baby thrust at her by a stranger in the subway station who then proceeds to jump, or was it pushed?, into on oncoming train and is killed. The woman implores Morgan to take care of and love her baby. Morgan, who has struggles of her own, wants nothing more than a baby and is instantly bonded to this one, determined to protect it.
The alternating story is Nicole in the past. She is the woman in the subway with the baby. We follow her descent into paranoia and learn why she made such a desperate decision.
However, along the way, there are many unexpected twists and turns. I loved how the characters developed and found Nicole’s postpartum struggles well done. Occasionally, I found Morgan a bit predictable and frustrating, but also liked how he wasn’t going to leave her fate up to anyone else.
The author did a great job weaving together past and present to bring the characters together on the train platform on that fateful day. Definitely a thriller that kept me guessing.
Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the review copy of this book.

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Book Review: The Dream House

The Dream House by Jess Ryder

It’s everything she’s ever wanted …

When I first set eyes on Westhill House with its breath-taking views of the sea I knew Jack and I could make this our forever home.

It may be falling apart with an overgrown garden, but with some tender loving care, we can repair this beautiful building and perhaps our relationship too …

But the more time I spend renovating our new house, the more time Jack is spending at work.

At least Lori is here to keep me company.

She has her own troubles yet she always listens to mine.

She’s helping to restore the house, uncovering its secrets one by one.

Like the children’s drawings under the wallpaper in the back bedroom.

The hidden papers underneath the floorboards in the turret room.

And the fact that Westhill House is a place women used to go to feel safe …

Lori seems to know a lot about Westhill House.

The question is, why?

A gripping, spine-chilling read brimming with secrets and lies. If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us or The Woman in the Window then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.
Previously titled THE GUEST.

Review:
Ryder does a wonderful job in this domestic thriller about Stella, who finds her dream house and is fixing it up only to have her whole life unravel in the process.
The story is told from Stella’s point of view (in the present), and Kay’s (in the past). The house that Stella buys was once a woman’s refuge and it’s history becomes a part of the story, almost like it is another character.
When Lori appears on her doorstep one night, an obviously abused woman who believes the house is still a refuge, Stella takes her in, wanting to do the right thing. But we soon learn that something is not quite right as the story of the house past and present unfold in a chilling way.
This was a real page-turner and I was anxious to find out Stella’s, Lori’s, and Kay’s stories. There are secrets and lies, great twists, and anxious moments in this well written psychological thriller.
One of the major themes of the book is domestic violence and Ryder is very respectful and does a great job in her portrayal. She even explains at the end how she was careful not to put in anything gratuitous and even includes references for women needing support themselves.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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