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Book Review: Before We Were Strangers

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Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak– Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound–the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult–he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Published: December 4, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating:  4 Stars

My Thoughts: I was anticipating this book to be just a mystery when in reality it was a romantic suspense with a very well done mystery. The story begins with Sloane returning to her hometown for the first time in 18 years to finally confront the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance when Sloane was only 5 years old. Sloane suspected her father had caused her mother’s disappearance based on the memories she retained from that night 23 years ago. By returning home to investigate Sloane was forced to confront not only her father but her brother, her high school boyfriend and her childhood best friend- all of whom she left behind when she ran. 

The story sucked me in immediately. There were several subplots running within the main plot but they all added to the story and were integral pieces of how the story ended. I found Sloane to be a great main character- she was intelligent, determined, flawed, and she felt very real. Micah, her high school boyfriend, was another character that I liked but I did not care for Sloane’s childhood best friend, Paige. She was manipulative and spiteful- in the beginning she came across as a friend but as the story went on the depths of her manipulation and deceit started to become evident. The strange relationship between the three characters of Sloane, Paige, and Micah was not exactly a love triangle and it involved no cheating but there was a real creepy off-putting factor to Paige’s obsession with Micah and with Sloane, to a certain extent. 

From very early on in the story I was sure I had the mystery figured out. It seemed very straightforward and all foreshadowing pointed in one direction. Then the twists started happening and things were clearly not as they appeared to be. I could not put the book down at that point. I had to know the how and the why immediately. The ending was very satisfying and the epilogue wrapped up all the story lines perfectly. 



Book Review: The Good Liar

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The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie– When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: This is a book about lies- so many lies. There were so many lies told by so many characters that it was nearly too much to keep of while reading. The story revolves mainly around 3 women- Cecily, Kaitlyn, and Franny- whose stories are connected in more ways than they thought. It all begins with a tragedy but things aren’t always as they seem. All 3 characters have major secrets they are protecting and those secrets affect everyone around them. 

This is a psychological thriller that takes more twists and turns than a roller coaster. The characters- love them or hate them- are very well written and their actions stayed true to the character throughout that book. For the purpose of this book it seemed less important to like the characters and in fact I enjoyed the book more because I despised 2 of them! I knew very early on who was going to be the villain of this story but I didn’t see the magnitude of the twists that were coming. The ending was satisfying and most of the loose threads were tied up. 



Book Review: The Waiting Room

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The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?

After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.

As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: I’m always hesitant to read books that deal with Postpartum Mood Disorders as a major plot point because so rarely do they portray it realistically. However, I am a fan of Emily Bleeker’s other books and felt compelled to read this book. I am so glad I did! This book is so much more than just a story about Postpartum Depression. There were twists and turns and shockers that had my eyebrows shooting off my forehead.

I found the main character, Veronica, to be very relatable even as I cringed at her lack of interaction with her daughter. I could feel her emotions jumping off the pages- fear, grief, anger, confusion. The friendship she forms with Gilliam felt awkward and stilted which wasn’t a product of bad writing but rather Veronica’s mental state. I’ll confess that I didn’t care for Veronica’s mother at all during the book- and I definitely didn’t care for her after the twist was revealed. 

It’s hard to review this book without revealing too much. It’s better to go into this one fairly blind. I thought I was reading a domestic drama but it ventured more into the territory of a domestic thriller by the end. About halfway through the story I had a hunch where it was going but I didn’t see all the twists and turns that were coming! I definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes their domestic dramas with a side of mystery and suspense!