What’s Ashley Reading?: Hour of the Witch

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

First line: It was always possible that the Devil was present.

Summary: Mary Deerfield, a young married woman in 1662 Boston, has been hiding a secret from her friends and family. In the years that she has been married her husband has hit her numerous times while drunk for imagined slights against him. But then one day he takes his cruelty one step further. He drives a three-tined fork, the Devil’s tines, into her hand. With a strong conviction of finally divorcing her abusive husband she also faces suspicion from the Puritan community. She finds that she is suspected of things that could lead her to a death on the gallows.

My Thoughts: This book started very slowly for me. Much of it dealt with the time period, life and getting to know the characters and their history. I felt that story finally picked up after the divorce trial. The pace seemed to be faster and the story more intriguing. But once the story picked up I was completely enthralled but disgusted by everything.

It is hard sometimes to read historical books, especially if the author writes them accurately. I feel like the author brought to life the true sense of the ridiculousness of Puritan Boston. Their views on women, the Devil and anything that was different. I rolled my eyes so many times during the trials because of the hearsay, circumstantial evidence and belief system of the time. Reading these types of books we see how far society has come but we still have a long way to go as well.

I enjoyed Mary’s story. She was a strong woman in a very restrictive society. She endures a lot throughout the book and much of it at no fault of her own. I was definitely rooting for her the whole time. I wanted things to be better for her with every disappointment and injury. But her husband and many of the other characters were awful people that I could not wait to see the end of.

I do not know how I feel about the ending. It almost seemed like a cop-out. Too easy of an ending but at the same time I liked aspects of it. Rating this was difficult but I think that it was worth the read.

FYI: Wonderful historical fiction. Perfect if you are interested in colonial America and the Salem Witch Trials.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Every Vow You Break

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

First line: She first spotted him at Bobbie’s Coffee Shop on Twenty-Second Street.

Summary: Just days before her wedding to millionaire, Bruce Lamb, the one night stand from her bachelorette weekend shows up trying to convince her to not go through with the wedding. She tries to ignore his attempts but then he appears at her wedding too. But she thinks that his stalking is over until he appears at the secluded island on her honeymoon. Does she tell Bruce or try to solve the situation on her own?

My Thoughts: When I looked at the rating for this book I was kind of surprised that it was so low. I found the book to be rather enjoyable with lots of dark and twisted moments. I found it to be more like an eighties horror movie than psychological thriller. And part of that can be found that several reveals were rather predictable. But I had a lot of fun reading it nonetheless.

Even though the island is supposed to be secluded and good for getting away from technology it also seems rather scary. You are secluded. On an island. With little communication. What if something bad happens? Well this book answers that question. And it was thrilling and scary.

FYI: Language, death, infidelity.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Mother May I

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

Summary: Bree Cabbat has the perfect life; a loving husband, beautiful children and a nice home. But one night she sees a witch at her window and the following day her baby son is stolen from her car with a mysterious message containing instructions on how to get her little boy back. As she follows “the mother’s” instructions she finds that there is more to this diabolical plan than she first thought. Racing against the clock Bree tries to find the secrets that could lead them to her son and “the mother”.

My Thoughts: This is my first book my Joshilyn Jackson. I really enjoyed it. It started off with a bang and continued to have the same high drama throughout which can be hard to maintain. As the story progressed I didn’t know how the author was going to continue because the end seemed so imminent but then whole new mystery appeared. As more layers were added the suspense got even higher until the last chapter. I will finally read her other thriller, Never Have I Ever, which I have checked out numerous times but never read yet.

Listening to the audio book I was a little annoyed at the readers voice. It was rather whiny but that could be because of the playback on the app. I liked the reader’s interpretation of “the mother’s” voice. It was witchy and creepy. And you need to stay focused while listening or you may miss something.

FYI: Great thriller!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Wrong Family

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

First line: Juno was hungry.

Summary: Juno, a retired therapist is living with the seemingly perfect Crouch family. She wants to spend the rest of her days here but then one day she overhears Winnie and Nigel discussing a matter that is hard for her to ignore. She tries to remind herself that she should not get involved but the therapist in her wants to help fix the situation. As she digs deeper into the family secret she worries that she will have to reveal it. But Juno has her own secrets as well.

My Thoughts: Tarryn Fisher’s book, The Wives, was one of my favorite reads from last year. I loved the big reveal that completely changed how the beginning of the book was read. It was inventive. I think Fisher does it again in The Wrong Family. I love that the story is once again set in the Pacific Northwest, in a beautiful house in Seattle.

I liked Juno. Her history and life were sad but most likely common for many people in the world. Winnie was whiny. She had a lot going for her but she seemed entitled. This shows the differences in society and people’s views on life.

The ending of this book was wild. But first the beginning was a little predictable but with several plot twists that really derailed what I thought would happen. I love how the author created this dual story line which leaves the reader oblivious to what is revealed. I raced through the ending as everything came to a head. I was really worried for both our narrators but the last chapter was a perfect ending. I had to go back and reread a few pages to make sure I picked up the final twist. It was worth every minute!

FYI: Very violent at the end. Drug and alcohol use.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

First line: I duck down and pull my hoodie close around my face.

Summary: Owen Pick, a college teacher, has just lost his job after a student accuses him of inappropriate actions. He doesn’t remember the incident and he tries to be very professional in all things. When he goes looking for advice he finds “incel” forums. Through the chatrooms he meets other men who have had similar experiences but are much more radical in their beliefs.

The Fours family live across the street from Owen. He has always seemed a little odd. When a teenage girl goes missing in their area they believe that it may have something to do with the creepy single man who lives on their street. And maybe he has something to do with the other sexual assaults happening in the area too?

My Thoughts: This is the first book by Lisa Jewell that I was not really impressed with. I liked it. It kept me reading till the end but it just didn’t have the same magic. I would almost say that it is mix of thriller and chick lit. It had more of a drama feel rather than suspense.

I liked the characters but most of them fell flat. I think they needed more developing. Everything seemed so obvious. I kept hoping for something shocking. Even at the end. But the last chapter was exactly what I expected. I felt very let down by this book.

FYI: Not as good as her previous book, The Family Upstairs.

Rachel’s Recommendations: Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

First Line: Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour.

Summary: Louise is a single mom who lives in London with her son, Adam. Juggling motherhood and a job as a secretary, Louise is in a never-ending cycle of boring. That is, until she meets a charming stranger in a bar. However, this new stranger is her new boss. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Louise bumps into Adele, the wife of Louise’s new boss, David. Soon Louise finds herself in the middle of a dangerous game with the two stars being Adele and David.

Can Louise figure out the secret that David is hiding? Who’s telling the truth and who isn’t? There’s only one way to find out…

My Thoughts: Behind Her Eyes started out a little slow, but soon picks up as you try to figure out the strange relationship between David and Adele. I stayed up all night reading the book so I could find out the ending. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend this to anyone who likes a good book with plot twists. The ending of Behind Her Eyes threw me for loop. It was an ending I was not expecting.

Trigger Warnings: drug use, violence, sexual situations, and language.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Playing Nice

Playing Nice by J. P. Delaney

First line: It was just an ordinary day.

Summary: Pete is a stay-at-home dad while his partner, Maddie, works. One day after arriving home from dropping his son, Theo, off at the daycare he gets a visit from a man who tells him that Theo is his son. It is a lot to take in. Miles tells him that there was a mix-up at the NICU when Theo was born. It seems that Pete and Maddie’s son was switched with Miles’ son. They have each been raising the others’ child for the last two years.

As the couples meet and discuss the situation they feel like they got lucky that each is so amendable. They are getting along well and working out the details. But can they trust this other couple with their son? As time goes by they see that things going on in the Lambert’s house is not as they seem.

My Thoughts: I think this is Delaney’s best book so far! It was really fast and had a good story. It’s terrifying but a real worry that sometimes mistakes like this may happen. With understaffed hospitals and so many children to be taken care of, it could easily happen.

I knew from the beginning when everything was going so well that there was going to be a lot of drama hitting Pete and Maddie soon! It kept me guessing and shaking my head as more craziness continued to appear. I was so shocked with the way every little interaction was spun and twisted to fit the needs of the Lamberts.

And I loved the ending. It wasn’t exactly mind-blowing but it was satisfactory and gave perfect closure. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a book they can easily finish in a weekend. It is easy to lose yourself in the drama and need to find out what happens next.

FYI: Check out J.P. Delaney’s other books for more great reads!

What’s Ashley Reading?: He Started It

He Started It by Samantha Downing

First line: You want a heroine.

Summary: When their grandfather dies, he leaves a dying wish. He wants his grandchildren to recreate and follow the same road trip they took together 20 years before. He wants his ashes taken with them and scattered in the desert where their trip ended.

Family road trips can be stressful. But made even more stressful when everyone is hiding a secret. However, in order to earn their inheritance, they must complete his request. Money is a motivator. So even with all the fighting and secrets they know they must finish the road trip at all costs.

My Thoughts: This book was messed up! It was one crazy twist after another. When you think you’ve seen it all you are proven wrong. At the end I kept flipping the page over because I couldn’t believe the book ended as it did. It was a wild ride. I did not like any of the characters. They treat each other terribly and most of the people they meet. It’s like watching a train wreck and you can’t look away. I had to know what was going to happen next. The one critique I had was the cigarette situation. It seemed so petty but that may have been the point. It made me dislike the characters even more.

I did like though that the sites they visit are real. Take a look. They are pretty neat actually. I would even add them to my next road trip.

FYI: Very dark, crazy read.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Dilemma

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

First line: It’s the cooling bathwater that wakes me.

Summary: Livia has been planning her fortieth birthday party for twenty years. She wants it to be perfect. Everything is in place and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day. She does not want anything to spoil it. But she has a secret she has been keeping from her husband. She knows she should tell him but she doesn’t want to ruin the day. So she decides to wait until after the party.

Adam, Livia’s husband, wants Livia to have a great birthday especially since she has been planning it for so long. He has a big surprise for her but when he learns something that may ruin her life he has a dilemma on whether to tell her or wait until after the party.

My Thoughts: This wasn’t a thriller in the traditional sense. No one is murdered. It is just lots of miscommunication and secrets that cause problems throughout the plot. I really enjoyed it. I was very anxious about how it would end. I made myself not look at the end so I didn’t find out what happened. It was hard not to. I needed to know. This is a book that I really had to put down so I could sleep. Even after that I kept thinking about it. So immediately I had to finish it in the morning.

I did get a little annoyed with the characters and their misunderstandings. So many secrets involved in this. Lots of messed up relationships. But it gave the book a lot of shock factors. I know I gasped a few times. B. A. Paris is a really good author for a fast paced thrill ride. Give her books a try if you haven’t already!

FYI: My favorite so far has been Behind Closed Doors.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Half Sister

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones

First line: Kate sees the familiar nameplate on Dr. Williams’ office door and feels a knot in her stomach.

Summary: Kate and Lauren are sisters who recently lost their dad but each of them has a different idea of who the man actually was. Kate idolized him. Lauren’s relationship was more distant. Then one night at a family dinner a woman shows up who claims to be their father’s daughter. Everyone is shocked by the revelation but none more than Kate. She is determined to prove that Jess is a liar. Lauren is more accepting of her which leads to even more discord in the family. As Kate looks deeper into Jess’s story she finds that not everything is as simple as Jess claims.

My Thoughts: This book kept me reading! I kept telling myself just one more chapter. One more chapter. I loved the different viewpoints. I liked that each woman was completely different from each other. It made the story more interesting because of the conflict. Little clues and hints appeared throughout. Some were red herrings. Others were not. I flew through this book with my heart pounding waiting for the ending.

I do have to say though that some of the stuff seemed a little farfetched. There were some overreactions and wild theories from the characters. I rolled my eyes a few times because it got a little dramatic but it did not stop me from reading it. I was pleased with the ending. I would highly recommend this for fans of thrillers and fast paced novels.

FYI: Great for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.