Ann’s Top Ten 2017

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Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. –Vera Nazarian

10. NUMMER ZEHN        THE DRYJane Harper

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9. NUMÉRO NEUF           I LET YOU GOClare Mackintosh

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7. 數字七                              A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBITBecky Chambers

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6. NUMER SZEŚĆ             I FOUND YOU– Lisa Jewell

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5. NUMERO CINQUE      TWO IF BY SEAJacqueline Mitchard

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3. NUMBER ਤੀਹ                HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDSBiance Marais

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2. NUMMER TO                THE CHILD FINDERRene Denfeld

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                                                                                                                                                      ~Ann >^.^<


It’s a Suspenseful and Thrilling Summer!

We each selected a book that could be described as suspense (lots of action in a short period of time and appeals to reader’s sense of unease) or as a thriller (a specific, often exotic, world that emphasize defeating the villain.) And then we discussed those books we picked! Ready? ‘Cause here we go:

Beth: Flynn Berry’s debut novel Under the Harrow is a fast paced thriller packed with unpredictable turns. The protagonist, Nora, takes a routine trip to the country to visit her sister, but upon arrival discovers her sister has been brutally murdered. The rest of the book uncovers secrets from the past as a grief stricken Nora tries to solve her sister’s murder.

Carol: In She’s Not There by Joy Fielding, Caroline Shipley’s life crumbles when her two-year-old daughter, Samantha is kidnapped on their family vacation in Mexico. Caroline’s marriage ends, her relationship with her older daughter suffers, and Caroline is vilified by the press for the perceived parental negligence that led to the kidnapping. Now, fifteen years later, Caroline gets a call from a young woman who says she thinks she is Samantha—and things tailspin once again. Though at times an emotional read, this novel psychological suspense is relatively free of the graphic violence often associated with suspense/thrillers.

Emma: In Darkness by Karen Robards, ornithologist Dr. Gina Sullivan is on a research expedition with other scientists on the island of Attu, Alaska. Gina is out on a lake in severe winter weather when she witnesses a plane crash. There is one survivor, James MacArthur Callahan (Cal). Gina rescues him, but danger sets in immediately. Together they battle the environment and countless enemies who are after Cal. I feel the cover of the book is a little misleading. This is not a light romance but an interesting serious thriller.

Sara: I read the book The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley. This is a story of two cousins, Arden and Rory, who have been like sisters their whole lives. They end up as roommates at a college neither girl wanted to attend because of the financial mistakes of their parents who own a restaurant together. There is a terrible fire in their dorm, both girls are critically injured and comatose, and one boy is dead. As police investigate the blaze, they begin to suspect that Arden started the fire. Her mother Natalie is sure of her innocence, and digs for details of her daughter’s life to find the truth. In doing this she finds she did not really know her daughter or niece at all, and that the girls knew more about the family secrets than they had ever let on. Told in the voices of Arden, Rory and Natalie this book is hard to put down and full of surprises til the very end.

Dori: In Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, a private plane unexpectedly crashes off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard shortly into the flight and there are only two survivors: a down on his luck painter, invited at the last minute, and the small son of the wealthy family who had hired the plane. What happened? As the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI investigate the crash, we learn about the passengers and their backgrounds, trying to discover who caused the crash. There’s the head of a FOX TV-like media conglomerate, a man about to get arrested for selling arms to terrorists, an Israeli bodyguard and the painter, whose last paintings depict a series of disasters, including a plane crash. Hawley, a television writer and producer, keeps us turning the pages and delivers a completely unexpected outcome.

Steve: Velocity by Dean Koontz is a horrific thriller that finds small town bartender Billy Wiles drawn into a nightmare after finding a note under his windshield wiper offering an unwinnable 6 hour ultimatum. If he doesn’t go to the police, a blond schoolteacher will be killed, and if he does go to the police an elderly charity worker will die. Billy and his friend, who happens to be the sheriff, play it off as a sick joke, but he next day a blond school teacher is found dead. Things get exceedingly worse for Billy.

Megan: The Trespasser by Tana French is the sixth installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran are the newest members of the squad and therefore are usually assigned the cut and dry cases. This seems to be the situation when they are handed a murder case that appears to be a simple lover’s quarrel turned deadly. However, as the pair digs into the details they become increasingly convinced that this case is just a little too simple. Conway begins to doubt her instincts as well as her partner’s intentions as the evidence piles up to indicate someone on her own squad is out to get her. Is she being paranoid or is there more to this case than meets the eye? This is another brilliant addition to the series. The psychological tension and suspense kept me up late into the wee hours. This book doesn’t release until October, so if you aren’t familiar with the Dublin Murder Squad now is the time to get started!

Lauren: Lydia Millet’s Sweet Lamb of Heaven finds Anna hiding out in a motel in Maine with her young daughter, Lena. They have left their home in Alaska and fled from Anna’s husband, an uncaring and increasingly dangerous man who has never shown the slightest interest in his daughter until he aims for a political career and begins his first campaign for office. Then he needs a trophy family and Anna and Lena find themselves on the run. Holed up in the motel with a small group of other guests and keeping constantly vigilant, Anna slowly realizes that she and the other guests may not have come together by chance at all.

Stacey: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood is what they like to call a “literary thriller” (in the library biz.) As the story begins, a small group of women have been abducted and taken to a remote location in the Australian Outback, had their heads shaved, and dressed in rough cloth to begin their punishment for promiscuity. As the women fight to survive harsh conditions, the tension builds around who’s responsible and when will they reveal their ultimate goal in holding these ladies hostage.

Next time? We’ll all be reading a Beach Reads book (ie something we’d be happy to take to the beach -or the porch!) Find something you’d like to read in the sun, or shade, just because it’s summertime!


2015: It’s a Mystery

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“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.”                        MICKEY SPILLANE

My 2015 list this year includes Mystery, Suspense, and Thrillers!

Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn. Chet the Dog is so famous he has his own website-

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. The “good girl” runs into a bundle of trouble.

Last Words by Michael Koryta. He didn’t know it at the time, but they were the last words he spoke to her.

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block. Black lies are definitely worse than white lies.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. No doubt this will be on many best lists!

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. This ferry will take you on a wild ride.

Orient by Christopher Bollen. Strange things are occuring in the town of Orient on Long Island.

The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. Some parts of this book are “unbearably grizzly”!

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. A twisty, psychological thriller debut novel.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. Another winner from author Chamberlain.


I’m Thrilled by the Suspense of it all…. in the Thriller and Suspense Genre!

We kept the excitement going by moving from horror to horribly exciting – aka a suspense or thriller book! Se all our books were either: 1. a suspenseful book emphasizing danger faced by a protagonist or 2. a thrilling book set in a specific world such as the courtroom, medical laboratory, or government agency, with an emphasis on the defeat of the villain and his conspirators. As usual, the list of what people read should have something for just about every reader -Are you ready to see which book appeals to you?

Maureen: When Nora decides to accept an invitation to attend her former best friend Clare’s hen (bachelorette) party after not seeing her in years, the ball is set in motion for what is sure to be a very strange weekend indeed in the chilling debut psychological thriller In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. A tiny select group of Clare’s friends gather for the November party at the remote, wooded summer house of party organizer, Flo, who herself seems oddly obsessed with Clare and overly concerned with everyone making sure this is the best weekend ever. As the partygoers drink, play games, and swap stories, long-buried memories are dredged up, secrets that people want to stay hidden are revealed, and emotions run high. Then the unthinkable happens – a horrific accident – that will bring all of the events of the past back to haunt those involved. A smart and top rate thriller that will keep you guessing!

Chris: See How Small by Scott Blackwood begins with three teenage girls finishing up their night shift at the ice cream shop when two men walk in, murder them and set the store on fire. All in two and one-half pages. That’s all the violence in this book which is more than fine with me. The rest of the book tells how family members, friends and the town mourn and grieve their deaths over the years. Wonderfully written and very unique: the first chapter is from the point of view of the deceased girls—Elizabeth, Meredith and Zadie. Alternate points of view join them throughout the story including one of the mothers, a witness, a possible suspect and family members. Just discovered Blackwood and plan on reading his other two novels: In the Shadow of Our House and We Agreed to Meet Just Here.

Lauren:In Mary Higgins Clark’s, The Melody Lingers On, New York City interior designer Lane Harmon is called to assist her boss in redecorating a condominium for a high profile client. The client turns out to be the wife of scam-artist financier, Parker Bennett, who disappeared two years prior after making off with billions of investor dollars. Did Bennett commit suicide or fake his own death in making his escape? Is he innocent of any wrongdoing as his wife believes? And could his son, Eric, who quickly charms Lane, be involved somehow? This latest book from the “Queen of Suspense” was not as enjoyable as some of her classics I remember reading and loving years ago, but loyal fans of her work may find it fun.

Carol: In In Wilderness by Diane Thomas, it is 1966 and advertising executive Katherine Reid has received a terminal diagnosis. She relocates to an isolated cabin deep in the Appalachian Mountains with few provisions, including the loaded gun she plans to use on herself. Once alone and surrounded by only nature, however, Katherine begins to feel better—until she realizes that someone else is watching her every move. Unstable twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran Danny is squatting nearby in a burned out mansion and he’s become fixated on Katherine. When the two eventually meet, both lonely and damaged and ill, they begin a passionate love affair–but it is one that won’t have a happy ending. Despite its creepy premise, this novel is a poignant and compelling read about PTSD, depression, grief, loneliness and mortality. I couldn’t put it down.

Emma: In Black-Eyed Susan: A Novel of Suspense by Julia Heaberline it’s 1995 and 16-year-old Tessa Cartwright is left for dead partially buried with another victim of a serial killer. The convicted killer, Terrell Darcy Goodwin, faces execution after 20 years in prison. Tessa is convinced that the wrong man is in jail and works with Terrell’s defense attorney and a DNA expert to determine the identity of the victims and the true killer. The novel includes lots of twists and turns and an unexpected ending.

Steve: Hot Pursuit by Stuart Woods finds the wealthy and well-connected Stone Barrington back for another adventure. Stone is jet-setting in his new plane to Europe with the beautiful Pat Frank, the pilot that has been assigned to him by his insurance company, and they soon run into trouble. Pat’s stalker ex-boyfriend keeps showing up in all the same locations. Meanwhile, back in Washington Stone’s friends in the government are hunting three Al Qaeda terrorists who have infiltrated the country. There’s not much depth in these characters, but the action is non-stop.

Dori: Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs, is the second in a trilogy about a fixer, a criminal that lives off the grid and leaves no footprint. Introduced in Ghostman, “Jack” returns in this outing to help Angela, the woman who trained him, whose plan to steal sapphires from a ship in the South China Sea has gone awry. Only one pirate has returned from the operation and he’s hiding something that is far more valuable than sapphires. After she gets a threatening phone call from a mysterious man, she contacts Jack who hasn’t seen Angela since their last crime. After landing in Macau, together they evade gangs, governments and guns. It’s an adrenalin filled ride and takes us behind the scenes and through the ins and outs of criminal life. It’s bloody and graphic; identities are changed, self-surgery is performed and oh yeah, so many guns!

Megan: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne is a page-turner of a psychological thriller. A year after one of Sarah and Angus’s twin daughters dies, the couple and their surviving daughter move to an isolated island to begin rebuilding their lives as they rebuild the abandoned house on the island. Instead of finding refuge, Sarah finds herself living a nightmare when her daughter Kirstie begins claiming that she is in fact Lydia, the daughter they thought they buried. All their lives unravel as the family struggles to cope with what really happened the day their daughter died. Family dynamics and a slow building tension will keep readers desperate to know which twin survived. Bonus points for the creepy, isolated island setting!

Stacey: The Enemy Inside is Steve Martini’s newest novel featuring Paul Madriani a Southern California lawyer who’s taken on the case of Alex Ives, a young reporter being held responsible for a fatal car accident. The victim was high-powered D.C. attorney Olinda Serna, a woman with shady connections on both coasts. When more ‘accidents’ happen to people connected to her cases, the original car wreck takes on new dimensions. I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the fast-paced action, entertaining characters, and surprising twists the author provided.

Next time? We’ll be reading and sharing Holiday stories! If you want to read along, you’ll want to find a book that features any Winter Holiday…. it’s almost too easy, isn’t it?


Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay -Book Review!

Bookworm's World: You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #55

After losing his job, reporter David Harwood is back home living with his parents and 9 year-old son in the small college town of Promise Falls, NY–a town that has seen better days. The daily paper has folded, there’s been women attacked on campus, strange animal mutilations, and the local amusement park isn’t reopening.

When David goes to visit his cousin Marla, he is shocked to see her with a baby she claims was given to her by an angel. Her own child died at birth, so where did this one come from?

Linwood Barclay is a master at making everyday actions seem sinister and threatening. And, since “Broken Promise” is the first of a planned trilogy, he leaves lots of loose ends.

-by Evelyn Janoch


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Recently I discovered an author I had never read before, Robert Crais, when I read Suspect. Maggie is a wounded war dog. Scott is a wounded police officer. When the two team up it’s unclear whether either one can survive in the real world.

This is an excellent mystery-thriller that you won’t want to put down! If you like Michael Connelly’s books or Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow try Suspect.


What a Thrill(er)!

Are you ready for a list of books that are fast paced, have twisty plots, and make your heart beat a little faster? Then you’ll love what’s coming! Our latest discussion featured books that fit into the suspense/thriller category and are meant to appeal to a reader’s feeling of uneasiness and build tension until the villain is defeated by the hero(ine). Sounds pretty exciting, right? Well, you’re about to find out if everyone was thrilled with their selection:

Ann: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry is a first novel filled with heart-stopping suspense and a touch of gothic intrigue. When Troy Chance jumps into the water from the ferry she’s riding, she is not 100% sure that she saw someone fall from the ferry boat traveling in the opposite direction. But in the cold waters of Lake Champlain she finds a little boy and drags him to safety. It’s when they finally reach the shoreline and sit together sopping wet, and the boy utters his first word, “Merci,” that the reader is hooked. Sara J. Henry is a great new voice in the mystery-suspense genre, and this book is the Winner of the 2012 Anthony Award for best first novel, 2012 Agatha Award for best first novel, and the 2012 Mary Higgins Clark Award. It was also nominated for the Barry Award and Macavity Award. I loved this book!

Carol: In A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller, Bell Elkins grew up in the shadow of the mountain in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, where one violent night ended her childhood and destroyed her family, leaving Bell to bounce from one bad foster home to the next. She escaped as a married young woman, and went to law school, but couldn’t handle life in busy Washington D.C. with her charming by straying husband, Sam, a lobbyist’s attorney. Drawn to return to home to make a difference after her marriage falls apart, Bell and her daughter Carla moved back to Acker’s Gap and now, Bell is Raythune county’s no-nonsense prosecuting attorney–determined to drive out the rampant prescription drug peddlers in town. When Carla becomes a witness to a violent triple murder, however, will their sleepy town ever feel safe again? Why were these men killed? Was it random? Drug related? An already sullen teen, Carla is shocked and horrified by what she saw, but, too tough to admit it, she puts herself in jeopardy to help her mother do her job. With its wonderfully flawed characters, a atmospherically painted West Virginia, and plenty of white knuckled moments, this first novel will keep your eyes glued to the pages. By the time they reach the book’s impossible to guess ending, readers will look forward to returning to Acker’s Gap.

Chris: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn opens on Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, unfortunately the Mrs. is missing. What happened? You could turn to the back of the book for the jaw-dropping ending, but then you’d miss out on a scary tale written in a unique way: the first half of the book is told in the first person, alternately by both Nick and Amy. Amy’s perspective is told in the past through journal entries; Nick’s is told in the present tense. Of course–there are two sides to every story. Can’t talk about the rest of the book without giving away the ending. Let’s just say that another possible title for this book could be Love Is Strange, Very Strange.

Emma: The portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford takes place in New York City in 1893. The city is under attack by a parasite that eats “the soft tissue of the eye”. Victims weep blood and eventually die. The majority of the novel however involves Piambo. Artist Piambo is offered the chance to paint a portrait of the mysterious Mrs. Charbuque. Her generous commission will be tripled if she is pleased with the painting. Piambo has a month to complete the project but must paint without ever seeing her. Mrs. Charbuque will sit behind a screen while Piambo spends one hour a day talking with her. Mrs. Charbuque is very different with multiple personalities and psychic abilities. The painting is finished but nothing bodes well for Mrs. Charbuque. According to reviews, the novel is smart, spellbinding, and a literary thriller standout.

Maureen: In the latest novel by Dutch writer Herman Koch, The Dinner, Paul and wife Claire meet Paul’s brother Serge and his wife Babette in a trendy Amsterdam restaurant with the intent of discussing a serious family matter involving both couples’ children. As the dinner slowly progresses from course to course, family histories are revealed through flashbacks, bringing to light each character’s true colors. The plotting is slow and deliberate but is absolutely perfect for building the almost impossible-to-endure suspense that builds as the reader finally discovers just what the teenage boys have been involved in and what the parents are going to do to resolve the situation. Told by narrator Paul, the subject matter is dark, the characters are flawed, and the resulting book is riveting psychological suspense. Not to be missed!

Megan: And She Was by Alison Gaylin introduces readers to Brenna Spector, a private investigator with a rare neurological condition that is both a blessing and a curse in her line of work. Triggered by the trauma of her sister’s disappearance, Brenna developed Hyperthymestic Syndrome, which allows her to have perfect recall. Now she puts her skills to use searching for missing people. Her current case appears to be tied to a cold case involving a missing child. Could the disappearance of Carol Wentz may finally lead police to the missing Iris Neff? This quietly suspenseful mystery will slowly draw readers in and then hit them with a shocking end.

Rosemary: The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter is the newest in the Bob Lee Swagger series. It is a fascinating recreation of the events leading up to and following the assassination of JFK. Hunter focuses on the question of just what part Lee Harvey Oswald played in the tragedy and how Oswald might have been used by other, even more dangerous men. Vietnam veteran Bob Lee Swagger is a very appealing hero and when he sets his mind to figuring out the JFK question, no one should even think about getting in his way.

Dori: In Ghostman, by John Hobbs, ‘Jack’ is called in to clean up the mess after an Atlantic City casino robbery has gone all wrong. Jack is a ‘Ghostman’, a criminal’s criminal; he lives off the grid, moving constantly, changing names and identities. Owing a debt to Marcus, the organizer of the casino heist, because he botched a Malaysian bank robbery five years ago, he flies into Atlantic City with 48 hours to find the stolen money before it blows up. Action-packed, technically detailed, unpredictable, and gritty, Ghostman is one gripping thriller.

Steve: Timeline by Michael Crichton, is a mix of sci-fi, history and all thriller, that divides its time between contemporary New Mexico, and 1300’s France. The secretive company, ITC, headquartered in New Mexico, has pioneered a way to transport humans back in time. ITC also sponsors an archaeological dig in France. The leader of the dig, Professor Edward Johnston, is sent back in time and goes missing. Four researchers from his team are then called upon to go back to 1357 France to bring back their professor. Fast-paced and with lots of plot twists, this is well worth reading.

Stacey: Defensive Wounds by Lisa Black has plenty of suspenseful elements and lots of police procedural details, but it’s the Cleveland setting that made this book really special. Theresa MacLean is a forensic investigator for the city’s police department and is called into investigate the murder of local leading defense lawyer, Marie Corrigan. No one seems very sorry that Marie’s been killed, especially anyone on the force, but there’s a strange lack of suspects or motives for murder.

Next time? We’ll be selecting books we call gentle reads. These books tend to focus on the everyday joys, frustrations, and sorrows of ordinary people living in tight-knit, recognizable communities. Usually centered on a particular group of friends with a common interest, their story are told without the extreme highs and lows found in other genres making them…. ta-dah!… a gentle read. (See how neatly these things can come together sometimes?) Enjoy!

— Stacey

What to Do While I Wait For The Winds of Winter

Winter is coming…but book six in A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin is not. At least not any time soon. I know I am not alone out here, wondering what to do with myself while I wait. On the one hand it’s actually a relief to not have most of my time and brain cells being monopolized by a complicated epic fantasy. On the other hand, I got used to lugging an enormous book around with me at all times. I kind of want that feeling back. So I took another look at my Goodreads “to read” shelf and found some titles that should keep me busy while I impatiently wait for G. Martin to get busy and give me a new book.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This may be the perfect choice for me. Historical fiction+time travel+some steamy romance=Win! Another thing that it has going for it is the fact that there are already seven books published. It looks like an eighth book will be published in 2013. There will be no hand-wringing or teeth gnashing as I anxiously anticipate the publication of a new title. There really is something to be said for starting a series once it is complete (or almost complete).

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2. The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma. Ok, it looks like I have an overwhelming desire to get lost in a time travel series. Who knew? This one has the bonus element of Steampunk, which is trè chic. Look at those gorgeous covers! I am sold.

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3. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. This supernatural thriller series comes recommended by a coworker. Quirky characters, suspense, and horror. Works for me. There are currently five books in the series and book six is due out in 2013.

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These are my top three contenders for my next epic series. Of course, if I was practical I would hold off on starting a new series until I finished or got caught up on my current series. *Cough* Stephanie Plum *Cough* I am not sure I will ever catch up with this woman!

I am also open to recommendations! What do you think I should read while I am waiting on The Winds of Winter?

Happy Reading!


Defending Jacob

Did you miss the clever, “can’t put it down”, and sometimes disturbing mystery-suspense novel Defending Jacob by William Landay? It spent months on the New York Times Bestseller list this year, and it’s easy to see why. What do you do if you are the assistant district attorney investigating the murder of a 14-year-old boy in your son’s class … and your son is accused of the murder? You defend your son. But what if you start to suspect that your son is guilty? This is one heck of a read.