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September 2023 Reading Wrap-up

Welcome to my September reading wrap-up. I read a total of 14 books this month. My favorites were “The Patient” by Cole Baxter, “Dark is the Grave” by T.G. Reid, and ‘Foxfire’ by Rowan Hill. I’m looking forward to seeing what amazing reads October brings. I’m also hoping to get into the habit of reading more consistently and setting a goal of 16 books per month. I’m determined to make a dent in my TBR list before the year is over.

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A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.

For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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My husband saved other people’s marriages.
But his secrets will destroy ours…

I stand in the mortuary and take a deep breath before identifying the body of the man I’ve been married to for twenty-six years. Victor and I built Serenity Falls, a successful couples’ retreat, together. Honesty and trust were the bedrocks of our marriage, and we helped other couples repair their relationships too.

Now my whole world has been turned upside down and I don’t know what to think. A woman lies in a coma, in a stark, white hospital room. She was by Victor’s side when he died. The police have been unable to identify her and I’m forced to confront the painful reality that my own husband was hiding something. My grief is laced with anger. How could he lie to me?

But as I begin to uncover the secrets of my husband’s past, I discover the shocking truth about the woman with no name and no memory. And to protect my family, I have to make a choice.

A choice that will turn me into a liar, just like Victor.
And will end in murder…

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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Would you defend your husband if he was accused of killing his mistress?

Sarah Morgan is a successful and powerful defense attorney in Washington D.C. At 33 years old, she is a named partner at her firm and life is going exactly how she planned.

The same cannot be said for her husband, Adam. He is a struggling writer who has had little success in his career. He begins to tire of his and Sarah’s relationship as she is constantly working.

Out in the secluded woods, at Adam and Sarah’s second home, Adam engages in a passionate affair with Kelly Summers.

Then, one morning everything changes. Adam is arrested for Kelly’s murder. She had been found stabbed to death in Adam and Sarah’s second home.

Sarah soon finds herself playing the defender for her own husband, a man accused of murdering his mistress.

But is Adam guilty or is he innocent?

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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In 1997’s Bible Belt comes an unusual tale of society’s least desirable. A woman plagued by the lasting effects of a disturbing premonition. A man seeking redemption after two decades of street gang affiliation. A priest gifting religious counsel to a community in moral decline. Six neglected youths making their get-a-way in an infamous Dodge van. How does it all come together in the unceasing chaos of poverty?

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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I pick up the photograph from their mantlepiece and carefully wipe away the dust. The beautiful wife. Supposedly happily married and enjoying a family vacation. I know her husband killed her. And I’m going to make him pay…

This is my first job as a housekeeper, but Evan Warner doesn’t need to know that. It’s the first of many lies I’ll tell him. He just lost his wife, Lola , and now he and his young daughter Jessica are adrift. But no amount of cleaning will rid this house of the secrets that have seeped into the cracks. I never forgave Lola for what she did to me. But I can’t let Evan get away with her murder.

In their impressive home, I busy myself preparing meals and peeking at carelessly discarded mail, looking for proof of his crimes. Evan hovers and I’m sure he is watching me… even as I bond with Jessica. But whenever he catches us alone together, his face darkens. I realize I have to get her out of this house before it’s too late for her, too.

Then I find Lola’s diary, tucked away in a closet out of sight. Her words, hastily scrawled on these pages, change everything I thought I knew about this family. As I hear footsteps on the stairs, I know I’m trapped. And I’m in more danger now than ever before…

The Wife in the Photo is a totally twisty psychological thriller guaranteed to keep you up all night. Fans of Freida McFadden, Gone Girl and The Couple Next Door will find it impossible to put down.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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A dark and steamy fairytale re-imagining of Little Red Riding Hood. Perfect for romantasy readers and lovers of smuttok Is it possible to be drawn to someone you’ve never met? When Ruby feels the eyes of a stranger in the woods, she knows she should be scared, that she should run away, but she can’t. Instead, she feels a thrill, feels drawn to this stranger who follows her in the woods. Yearns for his eyes on her every night as she walks home, hoping to hear the crunch of leaves under his feet that signals he’s there. Will he ever reveal himself? After all, fate doesn’t make mistakes . . .

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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When Jamie takes his girlfriend for a summer anniversary getaway by the sea, he thinks only the great British weather can ruin his plans. But he hasn’t accounted for Mrs Heinz, the bizarre proprietor of The Sailor’s Rest, and her obsessive fixation on midnight and curfew…

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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When Jennifer receives a message from Scott Dwyer after twenty years without contact, her first reaction is one of excitement. Scott was her first love, and now that she’s in her forties and in the middle of a divorce, nostalgia for her youth gets the better of her.

Scott invites Jennifer to his house in Redford, the very same town she grew up in. It’s a place she’s made great effort to put behind her, for not all her childhood memories are sunny. When she accepts Scott’s invite and returns to her old hometown, she struggles with mixed feelings, especially when she learns of the death of Steven Winters, one of her and Scott’s childhood friends.

Scott invites three other people from their past to honor Steven’s memory—Corey, Traci, and Mark. But the group is more than old friends. They share a dark secret that has troubled them for decades. Now it’s time to face their traumatic pasts. Together, they must unravel the mystery of what happened that night in the patch of forest behind Scott’s house, a place once known as Suicide Woods.

From the author of Gone to See the River Man comes a chilling novel that reminds us old ghosts are the ones that haunt us most.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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The Simulacrum is the most famous lost movie in film history – would you tell someone your darkest secrets, just to lay hands on a copy? 104-year-old Mary Arden is the last surviving cast member of a notorious lost film. Holed up in Garthside, an Art Deco mansion reputed to be haunted, she has always refused interviews. Now Mary has agreed to talk to film enthusiast Theda Garrick. In return she demands all the salacious details of Theda’s tragic past. Only the hint of a truly stupendous discovery stops Theda walking out. But Mary’s prying questions are not the only thing Theda has to fear. The spirit of The Simulacrum walks Garthside by night, and it will turn an old tragedy into a new nightmare…

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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The things he fears the most are the ones inside his head.

Ten years ago, James Owens was convicted of a murder he couldn’t remember committing. Now, finally released from the mental institution where he’s served his time, he is placed under house arrest in the sprawling family home he has inherited from his father.

Living in isolation, visited only by his therapist, parole officer, and supportive but controlling twin Janet, he at least has something resembling peace. But he is still haunted by hallucinations, nightmares, and bizarre memories which may or may not be real.

Strange sounds in the house, and objects which disappear or are mysteriously damaged all add to his fear that he is sliding into uncontrolled insanity again.

But is he? Or is his fragile mental state being manipulated by someone with a sinister agenda of their own?

When tragedy strikes, James must go on a journey that will force him to confront the past – and the haunted depths of his own tortured soul.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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When an American-style residential camp is set up in the grounds of an English stately home, the teenage camp counsellors are looking forward to a fun summer of activities.

But right from the outset, things don’t feel quite right at Camp Miller. Rumours circulate of a tragedy that took place in the grounds and there are unexplained sightings of a ghostly presence.

Then the incidents begin – a near-drowning out on the lake, a fatal fall from a cliff-face … Are these tragic accidents or is there something more sinister going on at Camp Killer?

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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An ancient land breeds a new threat…

The Scottish Highlands; a sparse, mountainous region some say was carved by the gods themselves. Few places are as untouched as this harsh, prehistoric landscape. It is no place for man.

But nestled deep within the wilderness lies a cottage, and behind that cottage is a hill…

When a group of friends travel up from Manchester and hire the cottage for a weekend of boozy fun, they discover a threat far greater than the harsh landscape and unwelcoming weather.

Something deadly lies upon the hill.

And it’s spreading.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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In a remote Finnish resort, a group of potential investors gather to enjoy the Arctic beauty and the mesmeric Northern lights. But many of the guests aren’t who they appear to be, and everyone is hiding something–from the gaudy Americans to the adventurous German and Australian couple to the quiet Yakuza and his former Geisha wife.

Owner Mattais and his skeptical daughter, Aino, have ignored family legends, dismissing the warnings of honoring their ancient forest as silly, old-fashioned traditions. But when the guests start to be picked off one by one, their blood soaked in the snow, the old tales don’t seem so far-fetched anymore. A spectre haunts the forest and the survivors must decipher who–or what–is taking revenge.

“…FOXFIRE combines all the best elements of a tense, well-paced thriller with compelling folklore and horror, all in the stark, deadly and glittering setting of the frozen north…. “
– Laurel Hightower, author of CROSSROADS and BELOW

Rating: 5 out of 5.


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