Amy by James Renner (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

This book is about a young reporter’s unceasing quest to find out what happened to Amy Mihaljevic.

Amy Mihaljevic disappeared in 1989 when she was ten years old. In early 1990 her body was found. James Renner, around the same age as Amy at the time, had been following the story about the cute little girl with the side ponytail. When Amy’s body was found James was devastated. The perpetrator was never caught. Sixteen years later, James, now a fledgling reporter for Scene magazine, revisits the story about Amy, hoping to uncover what really happened to her. As he gathers information from family members, friends and detectives who worked on the case, James quickly discovers there were a number of viable suspects who walked away, a few of them still living, and that one of them could be responsible for Amy’s death. As his investigation intensifies and he tracks down and interviews some of the suspects, along with those who knew them, James is struck by the deviance and depravity that surrounds him, and he becomes obsessed with finding Amy’s abductor.

James Renner’s tenacity in pursuing the Amy Mihaljevic case was captivating. Although a fledgling reporter at the time, Renner’s interviewing techniques were impressive. He cautiously spoke with anyone he could find that was connected to the case or considered a suspect, regardless of the danger to his own life. Each new chapter seemed to present another suspect or perspective regarding what happened to Amy, and I couldn’t stop listening to this book until I’d devoured the entire second half in one sitting. The suspense was such that I couldn’t tear myself away from it. There were real-life bogeymen, conspiracy theories, cover-ups, and almost too many suspects to keep straight. Some of it was very sad too though, like the impact that Amy’s death had on her mother, Margaret. She’d appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1992—the show was about unsolved child murders. Margaret had a rough go of it after Amy died. I won’t divulge what happened to her, but it was sad.

It’s fascinating to me how some seemingly ordinary people are really cold, calculating, and manipulative at their core; capable of committing heinous crimes. People we see in restaurants or who we have casual conversations with as we go about our daily lives are these same people. It’s frightful imagining the number of disturbed individuals who lurk among us. Renner’s book exposes us to some of the personalities of such characters.

This book was compelling. In the end, I was hoping to learn that justice had been served for little Amy, but it was not to be. I didn’t receive the closure that I thought was sure to come. The investigation is still ongoing nearly thirty years later. Nevertheless, the story gripped me, enlightened me and educated me in a way that I won’t easily forget.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of AMY, by James Renner. The author, whose voice is somewhat monotone but serene and welcoming at the same time, did a great job narrating his book.

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The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

[I’m trying to get back on a regular reading schedule amid doctor’s appointments and other life complications. Thank you for being patient with me as I play catch up with reading your posts and posting reviews. You guys are the best!! 😊]

Charlie Donlea sets the bar incredibly high for suspense novels. His books are compulsively readable. They are automatic buys for me, and I’ve read all three of his releases. His writing style is uniquely appealing, and I connect with it immediately. From the first few pages a mental picture develops and evolves into a vivid story that’s so engrossing that I’m completely immersed until the last page.

Phew! Now that I’ve finished gushing about Donlea’s writing skills, here’s a look at The Girl Who Was Taken….

Two girls go missing one night from the same beach party. One girl, Megan McDonald, escapes her abductor and returns home. The other girl, Nicole Cutty, is still missing. The book opens about a year after the girls were taken. Livia Cutty, Nicole’s older sister, has not given up looking for her. She’s a fellow in forensic pathology and is hopeful that she will find her sister and put an end to the mystery of what happened to her. As Livia intensifies her investigation into Nicole’s life she discovers many bizarre things about her sister and the activities she was involved in—shocking things.

Nicole has been all but forgotten by the general public, whereas Megan is in the spotlight, receiving accolades and recognition from her bestselling book, Missing, about her ordeal. And while Livia can’t help feeling bitter about Megan’s lot, she also couldn’t resist buying and reading Megan’s book, hoping that she would somehow discover clues leading to her sister’s whereabouts. What Livia doesn’t expect is to perform an autopsy on a man who is linked to her sister. What, if any, clues can come about from this discovery?

The Girl Who Was Taken was spectacular!! Seriously, I was on the edge of my seat, especially toward the end when the chapter lengths shortened and the tension amped up. I felt as though I was on an exhilarating joy ride that refused to slow down and release me, and it was wonderful.

I loved the plot development. Intricate details are successively woven throughout the chapters that begin to paint a picture of the lives of the abductees. I was in eager anticipation of the twist I knew would come, and I was not disappointed. And while the book left me with a few questions, it in no way detracted from my overall opinion of it. Excellent read. Highly recommended.

(Warning: There’s some teenage foul language, and detailed forensic descriptions in this book.)

Have you read a book by Charlie Donlea?

Thanks for reading everyone!!

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage


😩😩😩😩= 4 frightened faces

WARNING: MEAN, CREEPY CHILD ALERT!!

If you’ve ever seen the 1956 movie, The Bad Seed, the little girl in Baby Teeth is a younger version of that disturbed child, but worse!! Hanna’s behaviour makes it clear that there’s something seriously amiss with her, but her father refuses to acknowledge it since she’s all sunshine and roses when she’s with him. Consequently, her mother’s accusations about their daughter fall on deaf ears. Sweet little Hanna couldn’t possibly be as bad as Suzette asserts. Or could she? Suzette is a nervous wreck, trying to find out what’s wrong with Hanna. Everything she says to her daughter is taken as a personal affront, and Hanna lies in wait for the perfect opportunity to retaliate. She wants her father to herself, but has she gone too far to achieve her goal?

I was scared y’all. While reading Baby Teeth I had mixed emotions. But mostly I was feeling like…

Hanna’s devious, demented mind made me stop and ponder what I’d do if I had a child like her. Sometimes I felt like shouting at Hanna’s mother….RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!

At other times I wondered what Suzette could have done to make her daughter feel the way she did. 🤔

I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and compulsively readable. I felt intrigued, horrified, angry, compassionate and sad while reading it. I did have a couple of issues with the book. For one thing, Hanna’s internal dialog, at times, seemed too mature for a seven-year-old child, even a precocious one. I had to suspend disbelief to believe that she could contemplate and then execute some of the dastardly things she did. Another issue stemmed from the author’s occasional use of vulgar language which was entirely unnecessary. I’d be reading along happily and then BAM!, I would get hit with a vulgar word or statement and I thought, “what just happened here?!” 😡 Omitting those parts would not have changed the highly satisfying quality of the book.

Overall, Baby Teeth was a very good thriller that kept me in suspense, frightened me and left me with a contented smile on my face at the end.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of Baby Teeth. All opinions about the book are honest and entirely my own.

Have a great day everyone, and thank you so much for visiting.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

⭐️⭐️ – 2-stars

Simply put, this book wasnt for me. I didn’t like it at all. It became a tedious cat and mouse chase and I lost interest early on. The characters, including the main ones, were all one dimensional, and there wasn’t much to imagine outside of them. No engaging secondary characters, no atmosphere, no interesting landmarks, no development. Nothing. There was just no substance. It’s like everyone and everything existed in hazy outline, and I didn’t really care about anyone or anything, except maybe the dog, Peggy. And those silly Russian Dolls. 🙄 I didn’t particularly care for how it was structured either. There was quite a bit of introspection and first person narrative. I felt like it kept going in circles. Very repititious. It picked up a bit towards the final 20% of the book, but only briefly. I was just too tired of the whole thing to care by that time anyway. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was hoping for a climactic ending, but alas I found it disappointing and implausible.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the plot…

Finn McQuaid’s girlfriend, Layla, goes missing during a rest room break while on their way back to Devon, England, from their trip to France. Finn is devastated, but eventually he begins to accept that Layla is gone forever and he grows attached to Layla’s sister, Ellen. In the twelfth year of Layla’s disappearance, Finn gets engaged to Ellen and when their engagement becomes public knowledge clues begin popping up to suggest that Layla might still be alive and close by.

Initially, Finn paints this blissful picture of his relationship with Layla, but then there’s this undertone of discontent and animosity that existed. What really happened the night Layla disappeared, and has she really come back?

I’m sorry. I didn’t like any of it. That is all.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary copy of Bring Me Back in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea – **Top Pick**

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 5 stars

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In the words of Joe Kenda of Investigation Discovery: “Well my, my, my.”

Charlie Donlea certainly knows how to spin a tale.

Following is confirmation that I loved this book:

1. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity during the day to read it

2. I couldn’t stop thinking about it

3. I kept inundating my husband with details about it

4. I opened it up at 3:00 a.m. and started reading instead of going back to sleep after using the bathroom

5. I wasn’t longing for it to be over so I could read something else

6. I kept thinking to myself, “this guy can write!” as the book progressed and I was flipping pages faster than my little arthritic pinky finger could handle

7. The final sentence sent a wave of exhilaration coursing through my body, making me wish I could call up Mr. Donlea ASAP and gush about my thoughts

8. My e-reader showed I’d reached 100%, but I was still attempting to find more pages

9. I’m poised to add it to my Best Reads list for 2018

Need I go on?  If those reasons don’t convince you, then I highly suggest that you read this book and see for yourself. (Don’t Believe It releases in the U.S. on May 29th.)

And now here’s a very brief summary of the plot….

Julian Crists’s body is washed up on Sugar Beach, part of an island resort in St. Lucia, where he was vacationing with his girlfriend, Grace Sebold, who is found guilty of his murder and spends a decade in a St. Lucian prison cell, all the while proclaiming her innocence. She’s exhausted her appeals and it looks likely that she’ll be living out her days locked up. Desperate, she reaches out to a former acquaintance, Sidney Ryan, by means of letters written continually asking for her help. Sidney is a documentary film writer whose films have exonerated a couple of wrongly convicted criminals. Sidney makes the decision to help Grace by producing a real-time documentary of her findings regarding Grace’s case; new episodes airing each week revealing her findings from the previous week’s research. The documentary is a monumental hit for Sidney, and fans of the show loyally tune in to find out the fate of Grace Sebold. Will Sidney’s instincts prove true regarding Grace’s innocence?

There’s so much more content, but this is all I can share without giving anything away. Charlie Donlea truly delivers with this one. And I just love his writing. His stories are riveting. He’s a new favorite suspense writer for me. Highly recommended.

Thank you Netgalley, Kensington Books, and Charlie Donlea for an e-ARC of Don’t Believe It. In exchange I have provided an honest review of my thoughts about it.

Have an awesome day everybody! And thanks so much for visiting Cozynookbks. 💕

Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

5-stars

Our Little Secret was a page-turner and a brilliant read. I seriously never got bored reading it. The chapters are short and conclude in such an enticing manner that I could have read the entire book in one sitting if I’d had the time.

It begins in a police interrogation room with a Detective Novak questioning his detainee, Angela Petitjean (pronounced Peti-SHON), about the disappearance of a woman named Saskia. Angela informs the detective that she doesn’t have any information regarding Saskia’s whereabouts, but proceeds to tell him all about HP, who appears to have been her childhood best friend and soul mate. Through Angela’s account of her relationship with HP, we learn about her formative years; including her life at home with her parents, her time away at a prestigious University, and how things start to spiral downward in her life, which is when Saskia’s identity is revealed. All of these revelations take place in that interrogation room. I kept wondering if Angela was a reliable narrator. Was I justified in taking pity on her? Who was being deceitful? Who betrayed whom? These were some of the questions I kept asking myself as I read Our Little Secret.

Since I don’t want to give anything away accidentally, let’s just say this is psychological suspense at its finest; thrilling and well-written with characters that kept me questioning my opinions of them.

The ending had me like…

Very highly recommended.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for a complimentary ARC of Our Little Secret. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Has anyone read Our Little Secret? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a lovely day, okay? ☺

The Duke Mansion

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Look what I found. The U.K. edition:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫- 4.5 stars

The Perfect Nanny gets off to a chilling start and then takes us back to what leads up to its tragic beginning.

The nanny, Louise, does everything right. EVERYTHING! The delicate-looking, dainty woman is much stronger than she appears, and handles domestic chores with ease while still proficiently looking after Myriam and Paul’s two young children, Adam and Mila. Myriam feels relief that she can pursue her career goals again now that Louise keeps things running smoothly and efficiently at home. She does get in the way sometimes though, when Myriam wants to spoil and nurture her children. And Louise’s quirks can be a bit irksome at times. But Myriam can’t deny the confidence she has in the woman’s adeptness and dismisses any concerns that crop up along the way. That is until some of her noticeably bizarre behavior becomes unsettling. Why are the childrens’ parents delaying in taking necessary steps to dismiss her? They will pay the ultimate price for their callousness.

Sometimes when things appear too good to be true, they really are….

The Perfect Nanny is a psychologically gripping page-turner. Incredibly, this book is not laced with violence and profanity, just a subtle creepiness that gives you pause. Tidbits dispersed throughout the book help us to piece together how and why the nanny may have become deranged. The author wants us to draw on Louise’s life circumstances to reach our own satisfying conclusion regarding her ultimate insane act. Initially, I was thoroughly miffed about the ending. I felt like why did the author do this to me, ….

But after a few days of ruminating on it I started to feel much better about it, to the point of actually liking it. (Thank you Holly B of Dressed to Read, my reading buddy, you were right!!) 😉

Holly also alerted me to the fact that this book was inspired by true events.

Some scenes were a bit wordy at times, and the litany was causing me to feel like, ALRIGHT ALREADY! I GET IT!! But overall, this book was an excellent read. Just keep in mind that it’s the journey that will amaze you, not the destination. Recommended.

Thank you Edelweiss for a complimentary copy of The Perfect Nanny. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Has anyone else read The Perfect Nanny? I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!!