First sentence: Christopher Lee Watts was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on May 16, 1985, the second child to Ronnie and Cindy Watts.
Summary: In the early morning hours of August 13th, 2018, Shanann Watts was dropped off at home by a colleague after returning from a business trip. It was the last time anyone would see her alive. By the next day, Shanann and her two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, had been reported missing, and her husband, Chris Watts, was appearing on the local news, pleading for his family’s safe return. (from www.amazon.com)
My thoughts: Not everything is as it seems. Looking at the life of Shanann Watts seemed to be the most perfect life, a beautiful home with a family, a loving husband and 2 beautiful little girls and a baby boy on the way. But behind closed doors is a whole other story. A demon was in the making and before you know it took everything away from so many family and friends in the sad stories of this unbelievable set of events. While not everything or everyday or everyone is perfect, this didn’t need to happen to a family.
*This can be found only on Hoopla or thru interlibrary loan.*
First line: PERSONAL – comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in LaPorte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless sender is willing to follow answer with personal visit. Triflers need not apply.
Summary: Belle Gunness, a Norwegian immigrant, has learned some hard lessons early on. Upon her arrival in Chicago she married with the hopes of achieving the American dream. But the life she dreamed of did not come true. She was disappointed in her husband, home and lifestyle. She must make her own way in the world by any means necessary. Mysterious deaths, house fires and heated arguments the legend of the Black Widow of LaPorte begins to take hold.
My Thoughts: Before finding this book on Netgalley I had never heard of Belle Gunness. She was a female serial killer. She killed an estimated fourteen people but may be linked to many more. I was really intrigued by the premise, the story and the character of Belle. It was very disturbing to be inside her head. She rationalized everything she did. But even a book about a serial killer I found much of it to be drawn out. There was long periods of time passing and very little happening. I think that much of this could have been taken out and the story would have felt more thrilling.
After finishing I visited www.newpapers.com via the library’s learning databases. I wanted to see what the newspapers of the time were reporting about this woman. Many had the same headline or story. Then there was a resurgence of sightings and murders that some believed were connected to her. There is still lots of mystery around this century old murderer. It’s crazy how reality can be even stranger than fiction.
First line: Sienna Scott nearly tripped over the body.
Sienna Scott finds the body of a young woman while walking home in a
snowstorm from a study session. As she looks at the victim she realizes
that the girl has a resemblance to her. Was she the intended victim? Or
is she seeing things that are not there, like her mother? Her father
decides to send her away to London to get her away from her mother’s
delusions and the aftermath of the murder.
When she returns home
she finds that life in Tranquility Bluffs has changed since she last
lived here. But she is more shocked by the state her mother is in. With
Sienna’s return her mother spirals as she worries that with her being
home “they” will come for her. It does not help that the police have
reopened the case of the murder that Sienna stumbled upon. Then strange
calls and white unidentified vans driving by lead Sienna to believe that
the killer is back and try to finish what they started years earlier.
I enjoyed Spindler’s newest thriller. It has several twists that throw
the reader off but also hint at the ending. I had several different
theories as I read but nothing that I was absolutely sure about. I liked
Sienna’s mother. Having a character with paranoia is a good tool to
change the reader’s perceptions as the story progresses. It definitely
did affect mine.
This is not an overly complicated book or
something mind blowing but it was just a lot of fun! I have recommended
Spindler to readers who enjoy thrillers and mysteries. They do not
disappoint and make for a fast read.
First Line: In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in The Times.
Summary: First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. A famous nursery rhyme is framed and hung in every room of the mansion:
“Ten little boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there then there were seven. Seven little boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”
When they realize that murders are occurring as described in the rhyme, terror mounts. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. Who has choreographed this dastardly scheme? And who will be left to tell the tale? Only the dead are above suspicion. (Book summary from www.goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: This thrilling and ingenious story written by Christie kept me on the edge of my chair all the way through to the end. I thought this book was mystery at its finest. The lack of spoilers and abundance of conundrum was exciting and intriguing at the same time. I think this is one of Agatha Christie’s best novels by far. In this book I could always expect a drastic turn of events, that would have me reading to the last page. Agatha Christie really outdid herself with this amazing mystery
FYI: There are a few gruesome scenes in this book.
First line: Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.
When Jack Torrance gets the job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel it
seems to be a dream. A gorgeous hotel with few distractions where he can
finally finish his play. However, when the Torrance family move into
the famed lodging they begin to notice that something is wrong with this
place, especially their son, Danny.
Danny has always had a knack for knowing things no one else does. But life at the Overlook is more eerie than anything he has encountered in his five years. As the months pass while in isolation in the mountains of Colorado the Torrance family are finding out that the Overlook wants more from them then care taking.
My Thoughts: This is probably King’s most well-known novels. I read it several years ago and enjoyed it but I thought it needed a reread after reading the sequel, Doctor Sleep, this last fall. It was well worth it. I had forgotten many of the events of the book and how scary the story truly is. I really wish that they could make this into a movie or miniseries that would do the story justice. I think my favorite and the scariest scenes were the hedge animals. I do not think I will be able to look at any again without worrying about them coming after me.
And this is maybe a
perfection book for quarantine. The Torrance family is isolated like
many of us are in these uncertain times. It can be terrifying. King’s
novel is one that will suck the reader in and make it easy to let the
hours fly by.
FYI: After finishing definitely check out the movie starring Jack Nicholson.
*This is my pick for category #6 (A book that has been (or is being) adapted to the screen) for the ReadICT challenge.*
First line: They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
Alessandra is the youngest daughter of an earl. She has spent her life
sequestered from the world until her sister marries but she has a plan
to gain ultimate power for herself. First she is going to get the
attention of the Shadow King. Second she will make him fall in love with
her and marry her. And finally she is going to kill the king and take
over his kingdom.
My Thoughts: Ever since reading Tricia Levenseller’s first book, Daughter of the Pirate King, I have been hooked. It was a fast read and lots of fun! Each book since has been the same. I highly anticipate each new release. When I saw that Netgalley had an ARC of The Shadows Between Us I requested it immediately.
This is my favorite book of her so far. This is being called a Slytherin romance and that 100% describes it. I loved each of the main characters. They were both not good people but they are unashamed of it too. They know it and do not apologize for their faults. From the very first page the story takes off. Alessandra is wickedly charming and cunning. Kallias is dark, moody and brutal. But there are characters with lighter sides that add a little fluff which is refreshing too.
loved the whole premise of the Shadow King. The magic and the way it
works is brilliant. This author has a wonderful imagination and can
bring her worlds to life. I could easily picture Kallias and his
shadows. The details of the outfits were stunning. I wish I could read
this again for the first time. I am so sad I have to wait another year
for a new book by Levenseller.
First line: The day I learned of my father’s plans for me, I was but nine years old.
In the summer of 1492 in Rome Cesare Borgia sees his father rise to the
become the newest pope. Cesare has been forced to follow his father
into the church but he knows that he is destined for something more. He
has a strong military mind and passion to rule. However, his father is
blinded by his ambitions to consider what Cesare wants.
Moretti has come from the country to work in the Vatican. As a servant
she sees into the world of powerful men who rule Europe. When she
catches the eye of the handsome cardinal, Cesare Borgia, their lives
become entwined as Rome and the rest of Italy fight the changes that are
coming for them all.
My Thoughts: I love Alyssa Palombo. She is such a talented writer. She brings her stories to life and makes the characters believable. Even though many of the characters in this story are not likeable she does a fantastic job of getting the reader to at least understand them. I have been fascinated by the Borgia’s since picking up The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis. I was very excited when I saw that Alyssa Palombo’s newest book would be centered on this notorious family.
I love the intrigue and drama of the
Borgia family. They were people who schemed for everything they got but
were at the center of religious power in Europe. I am very familiar with
their story so there was not much that surprised me in the narrative
but I loved the naughty bits which were more prominent in this novel
compared to her other ones. I liked seeing the world from the eyes of a
servant. At the end the author discussed how she wanted to look at the
events from someone of power and someone without power. I agree it makes
it much more interesting to see both sides.
FYI: Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.
First line: The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.
In 1982 Viv Delaney is hitchhiking through New York when she is dropped
off at the Sun Down Motel. That night she is offered the job of the
night clerk for the motel. On her first nights she learns that not
everything is as it seems at the Sun Down. The strong smell of
cigarettes, doors opening and closing on their own and ghostly voices
around every corner. Then one night in November Viv disappears without a
Flash forward to 2017, Carly Kirk travels to the town of
Fell, New York to find out what really happened to her aunt who
disappeared from the Sun Down Motel in 1982.
This was so much fun!! I read it in just 2 days. I loved the old motel,
the people and the mystery. I always drive by old motels and wonder who
actually stops there. This answered it for me. St. James’ descriptions
of the place are just eerie. It is a place stuck in a time bubble. I can
easily imagine the smell of the old smoke, the dirty carpets and the
old bedspreads. Add to the creepy hotel a few ghosts and you have the
recipe for a perfect story. The first time that Viv sees the woman it
gave me chills.
FYI: If you love a good ghost story than this is for you!
It is 1893. Chicago is hosting the World’s Fair. All eyes are on
America. Told through intertwining narratives following the dreamers and
architects of one of the largest expositions ever and the serial killer
who used to fair to attract his victims.
My Thoughts: I
was very excited to start this. I just read about the victims of Jack
the Ripper so obviously it was time to read up on H. H. Holmes,
America’s first serial killer. And I had heard great things about Erik
Larson’s books. However, I was a little disappointed. I loved the
chapters about Holmes and his “Murder Castle” but they were too short.
More time and pages were devoted to the World’s Fair. I get that it was a
very important piece of American history but it was very dry. I slugged
through about two thirds of the book before I decided to skip each of
these chapters and just focus on Holmes.
I was astounded at how
long Holmes was able to go undetected while committing his crimes. He
spent years avoiding notice. Even though murder is his most notorious
crime he was a mastermind at other ways to deceive. Larson always
pointed out his striking blue eyes and charming demeanor. It is easy to
imagine him swindling his unsuspecting victims. He used his charms to
avoid debt collectors, create alias and marry several women. With these
skills he was a very “successful” man. He accumulated wealth and many
people liked him. It is hard to imagine that someone like that could be
as cold-blooded as he was.
I have to point out that even though I
gave up on the fair chapters that they were very detailed and well
researched. This would be a perfect book for lovers of Chicago history
and architectural history. I loved looking at pictures from the fair. It
looks stunning. Truly a wonder of the modern world. Even though they
had many setbacks and struggles during the construction they pulled off
an amazing feat.
FYI: A great young adult historical fiction set in Holmes’ Chicago is Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco. It is the 4th book in the series and I highly recommend them all!
*This is my pick for category #12 (A book by an author slated to visit Kansas in 2020) for the ReadICT challenge.*
First line: There are two versions of the events of 1887. One is very well known, but the other is not.
Everyone has heard the story of Jack the Ripper. He haunted the streets
of Whitechapel preying on women. His victims known as the canonical
five are Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane. His story has
been researched and turned over hundreds of times but very little is
actually known about the women whose lives he took. Here are their
My Thoughts: I have recommended this book to
anyone and everyone! I was completely engrossed in it. It is thoroughly
researched and well written. It reads like fiction and is easy to get
caught up in these women’s lives. I found myself hoping for better
outcomes as I read even though I knew how each of their stories was a
going to end.
Rubenhold brings these women and the times that
they lived to the forefront. Everyone thinks that they know the victims.
They were prostitutes right? Wrong. Some were but not all five. Each
has a story to tell. I could not believe the detail put into their
narratives. Using housing records, census, interviews and newspaper
reports we get fuller picture of their lives.
romanticize the Victorian time period but it was anything but ideal.
People were barely able to care for their families. Housing was not
always safe or healthy. Disease, alcoholism and poverty were prevalent.
How people survived is astounding.
If you love history, true
crime or biographies than this is perfect for you. It is full of
information that will keep you reading until the very end.
FYI: There is very little mentioned about Jack the Ripper. This book focuses on the women only and the time that they lived.