The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke GirlsThe Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

15 year old Lane Roanoke is sent to live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra after her mother commits suicide. Though she knew little of her mother’s family, she is amazed by the large estate in rural Kansas, and quickly becomes settled as one of the beautiful and wealthy Roanoke girls. However, she soon learns that all is not as it seems in the family. Secrets are in every corner, in every photo hanging on the wall, and in every Roanoke girl. Even her mother had her secrets. When she learned the truth of the Roanoke girls, she ran away, leaving her beloved cousin Allegra behind.

Years later, she receives a call from her grandfather that Allegra is missing. Unable to forgive herself for leaving Allegra behind, she returns to Kansas to search for her. Did Allegra finally escape, or did something more sinister happen to her? Lane is determined to find out. And she may be given a second chance with the boyfriend she left behind 11 years ago, who’s heart she broke when she fled. But her return also means facing those family secrets she ran from. Will she be strong enough to face them again, and will she be able to run from them again?

The Roanoke Girls is a wonderful, excellent read. The subject matter is truly disturbing. I won’t give the secrets away, but the reader will have an inkling while reading the book. But that does not lessen the impact. The characters are deeply drawn, and the description of the land in Kansas is very evocative. The reader can almost picture the places, seeing the book running as a movie in their minds. I loved Allegra and Lane. I could not put this book down, wanting to keep reading until it was finished. Then I was so sad it was over. I cannot recommend this book enough to readers of general fiction, women’s literature, with a mystery element. Please, read this book!
Thanks to Crown Publishing via Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

Everything You Want Me to BeEverything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

High School Senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing parts; the good daughter for her parents, the perfect student for her teachers, the best friend, the good citizen. But when she is found brutally murdered the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through her town. The town sheriff, a family friend of her parents, vows to find her killer and bring him to justice. But the more he investigates, he finds more questions than answers; it seems that Hattie’s acting talents extended far beyond the stage.

Told from three viewpoints, Hattie’s, Sheriff Del Goodman, and the new English teacher, Everything You Want Me To Be tells the story of a year of Hattie’s life. A year in which she is coming ever closer to a devastating death.

Extremely well written, with a story that will grab you and not let you go, Everything You Want Me to Be is a book that will leave you unsettled. Certainly not satisfied, for you know at the beginning of the book that a beautiful young girl is dead. Yes, I know it’s fiction, but nonetheless. Unsettled seems the best term. I was certainly invested in this book while reading it. Even holding out a certain hope, while knowing it was hopeless. That to me is the mark of a well-written book; knowing the outcome but hoping that it would be changed. The characters were true to life, well-drawn. Highly recommended for readers of women’s literature, mystery, thrillers (even if the ending if known).
Thanks to Atria Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Trapped Girl (Tracy Crosswhite #4) by Robert Dugoni

The Trapped Girl (Tracy Crosswhite #4)The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who is the woman found in the crab pot in the chilly waters of Puget Sound? Before Detective Tracy and Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Division can find the killer, they must first identify the victim. However, that proves to be difficult task, when the investigation points to the woman being someone who disappeared under mysterious circumstances months ago. As Tracy begins to untangle details from the woman’s past, she uncovers a trail of deceit, greed and betrayals that a killer is desperate to keep hidden. Will Tracy find out who the woman in the crab pot really is, and will she find who the killer is, before more die to protect the secrets of the past?

It is difficult to give a good description of this book without giving too much away. Robert Dugoni has written a book full of twists, turns and more twists that it’s hard to describe. Having said that, this is a great mystery/thriller read. The fourth in the Tracy Crosswhite series, It delivers a plot that will keep you guessing, beginning with the woman in the crab pot. Who is she? How did she get there? Who is her killer? You think you know, and then you don’t. This series has quickly become one of my favorites. I would suggest that the reader begin with the first in the series, just to become familiar with Detective Tracy Crosswhite, but each book can be read as a stand alone. Recommended for fans of detective, mysteries, or thrillers.
Thanks to Thomas and Mercer for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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No Witness but the Moon by Suzanne Chazin

No Witness But the MoonNo Witness But the Moon by Suzanne Chazin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Police Detective Jimmy Vega responds to the scene of a reported home invasion in an upscale community and sees an Hispanic man fleeing the victim’s estate who fits the armed suspect’s description. Vega chases the man into a wooded area, and when the suspect not only refuses his order to stop but reaches into pocket, Vega has only a split second to make a decision.

When it is discovered that the man was unarmed, Vega’s life is turned upside down. Vega’s girlfriend, Adele Figueroa, head of a local immigration center, must work through her own doubts of his actions. But more disturbing is the fact that there is evidence linking this man to the unsolved murder of Vega’s mother. Vega must return to his old Bronx neighborhood, where his is vilified as a disgraced cop, not a neighborhood hero. But he is determined to find the connection, and find out the truth about what happened that night and the night his mother was murdered.

The Jimmy Vega series is an excellent one. It shows insight into the issues facing the Hispanic communities, not just in the location of the book, but really facing communities across the country. Maybe reading this series will give a little understanding and compassion to the reader. Yes, it’s fiction, but I believe that’s it’s very well researched and true to what is happening across the country. The books are very well written. The character of Adele Figueroa is just a little too quick to judge her boyfriend Jimmy Vega; for someone who is in love with a police detective, she is very quick to doubt him and his motives. This seems to happen in every book. Other than that, The characters are well drawn, and I love the Jimmy Vega character. Recommended for readers of police procedurals.
Thanks to Kensington Publishers Via Netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

The Impossible FortressThe Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s 1987, and Playboy has Vanna White. Billy and his two best friends, Alf and Clark are determined to get their hands on a copy. To them, it is the holy grail; America’s sweetheart Vanna White in Playboy! Only problem, they are 14, and the only store with copies of Playboy won’t sell to them. After a couple of failed attempts to obtain a copy, they hatch a plan: Billy will pretend to like the store owner’s daughter, Mary in order to get the alarm code to the store so they can break in and get the magazine. Only, Billy and Mary find out they are both misfit computer nerds who genuinely like each other. They work together on a video game contest, using Billy’s game called The Impossible Fortress. Billy doesn’t want to use Mary to get the code anymore after they become friends. But after a misunderstanding, he agrees to go ahead with the plan to break into the store. I don’t want to go into any more detail than that, because I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story.

I am not a child of the 80’s, but I had two children born in the mid 70’s. I recall so much of what went on in this book! The computers, the clothes (dressing like Don Johnson of Miami Vice!), Pac Man, etc. The story of Billy and Mary was sweet. Told in the first person, the reader can get totally inside Billy’s mind, and understand his motivation, even as you’re telling him “don’t do it, idiot!” I’m not an expert on 14 year old boys, but most of it rings true. Mr. Zelinsky, Mary’s father, is a truly great character. There are aspects of the story that may make the reader uncomfortable; talk of fat-shaming, bullying, using a 14 year old girl as a sexual object to get into the store. And I’m not saying these aspects are ok by any means; but remember the time that the story was written in. The 1980’s were a completely different time than 2017. These had not hit the public consciousness as they have today. It would be less true to the time of the story if it was written for the way these aspects are viewed today. I hope I wrote that in the way I intended. I am not condoning any of those acts. Now, back to the story. Billy and his friends make a great trio, true friends. Not all good, but not really all bad either. I liked the ending of the story. I can recommend this book for young adults, but also for readers nostalgic for the 80’s, and those who enjoy a sweet, funny read.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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