Tainted – Alexandra Moody

Welcome to the ARC, the underground facility that houses what is left of Earth’s population after a meteor hits and a nuclear winter follows. Elle Winters was barely more than a toddler when the Earth was hit. However, the screens around the atrium of the ARC show a continuous live-feed of the dust and desolation that Earth has become, so can anyone truly forget what the Earth was like in it’s glory?

Every year, the residents of the ARC are tested to see if they’re “tainted”. While the exact symptoms/signs of being tainted aren’t explained in detail, the fact that these people are taken away with no warning and leave behind everything, including their possessions, and are only allowed to leave a limited video message to say goodbye to everyone, definitely hints that it’s not a good thing.

It seems as though the upper-echelon of the ARC are attempted to allow normal lives, even hosting school dances, there are secrets all throughout the ARC. Her best friend, Sebastian, is intent on uncovering these. Sebastian proclaims his feelings for her, which she in somehow unsure of reciprocating. She has a juvenile sense of jealousy every time she sees him with another girl, but cannot admit to herself or anyone else how she feels about Sebastion.

However, once his testing day arrives, the unthinkable happens. He’s gone. Will Elle delve into the mysteries that plague the ARC? How far will she go to find out what happens to those deemed “tainted”? Will she follow Sebastion, as she promised?

This was one of the better YA Dystopian novels I’ve come across. Not quite as good as the Hunger Games, Divergent, and all the other pop-Dystopian novels that have been franchised in to movies, but a good read nonetheless. It wasn’t a page turner, but I did find myself throughout the day (I really only get a chance to read right before I go to sleep) wondering about how things would play out. I will definitely be following up with the other three novels in the series, so be on the lookout for those.

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Apartment 6 – Stuart James

Apartment 6

Lindsey, this one’s for you, babe!

Meagan, a woman in an abusive relationship. Oliver, a man who recently split from a long-term relationship. A chance meeting on a train. She’s a beauty, even with her black eyes and busted lips, and he wants nothing more than to save her. “The woman on the train” is an enigma who plays hot and cold with him, until one day, he receives a chilling text, where she asks for the unthinkable. Will he kill to save her?

He does. Or at least, he thinks he does. Oliver is lead down a road that he never would have imagined himself on, murder, hiding bodies, moving bodies, and still playing in to Meagan’s hands. When he finally has enough, he realizes that maybe she isn’t as innocent and naive as he thought initially. Maybe she’s more than just a simpering, abused woman who is terrified of her cruel husband.

The story is told in two story lines, one of which Meagan is five years old and witnessing the abuse that her mother deals with at the hands of her father. The other is the current timeline, with Meagan and Oliver. I love this method of story-telling. Stuart James is a bestselling author, and with this novel, it’s easy to see why. There were so many twists and turns, with believable characters and an amazing plot. The twist ending, even I, as a veteran reader and lover of plot-twists, did not see coming. Definitely worth the read if you want a good psychological thriller that keeps you on your toes and wondering, “What’s going to happen next?”

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Your Only Friend – RJ Lindsey

Your Only Friend

Another psychological thriller. As you can tell, I’ve been on a kick lately. This novel however, I can’t say was wonderful, nor can I say it was terrible. It was a middle-of-the-road, somewhat interesting read.

Sinead is still reeling over the death of her mother and is looking for a change of scenery. Currently sharing a house with several of her college friends and working as a collector for charities, her options are limited. Until a dream opportunity arises. A room for rent with an unassuming, older man who seems to live a quiet life of order and cleanliness. However, when Sinead shows up to see the place, the man tells her the room is no longer available. She persuades him to open the room back for rent, and drains her savings to pay the deposit and rent.

Elliot, her landlord, seems helpful and caring, if also extremely socially awkward, which is great while Sinead is going through an estrangement from her friends. Rumors, seduction, misread signals, and her friends completely wiping her from the picture causes Sinead to go into a downword spiral. After an accident leaves her injured and unable to work, the issues with her friends come to a head. Meanwhile, Elliot is supportive and helps her with the mundane tasks of life that she now has difficulty completing on her own.

However, Elliot travels frequently for work, which Sinead is still not 100% sure of what his work entails. When things start to take a turn to weirdness then straight out frightening with him, Sinead hopes to regain her friendships and escape the sinister creepy man that her landlord has become. Will she survive living with him any longer?

As I stated, it was a middle-of-the-road read. It would be a perfect novel for a light read, nothing to suck you in too deeply. Not terrible, not wonderful, it justĀ is. I wouldn’t read it again, but the first time around, it wasn’t so bad.

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The Three Women – Valerie Keogh

The Three Women

Beth, Joanne, and Megan meet in college under the usual circumstances. Beth and Joanne in the bookstore, and Megan when they rescue her after she dumps an entire tray of food over a crowd. The three quickly become inseparable, and remain so for their entire lives. However, on the night of graduation, things take a turn for the worse. The trio decide to have a girls’ night and they visit a bar. A few hours go by, and Beth realizes she can’t find Megan. She searches out Joanne, and they return to the rented bungalow in hopes of finding Megan. What they find instead is a nightmare. Megan, with her dress torn, scratches and bruises everywhere, and utterly distraught. She swears the other two to secrecy, and they attempt to move on with their lives.

Beth becomes a detective in the sex crimes unit, Megan becomes a prosecutor, and Joanne develops a life of luxury in “public relations”. That one girl’s night changed everything in their lives. But as things unravel, secrets are revealed that destroys each woman’s life thread by thread. Just goes to show, you never really know your friends.

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Missing Parts – Lucinda Berry

Missing Parts

Celeste has it all. A loving, doting husband, a perfect daughter, and her dream career. Her husband, David, is a stay-at-home-dad to their daughter, Rori. While Celeste seems to have it all, her life is a delicate balance and dance, knowing that she’s keeping a devastating secret. When Rori becomes sick with a rare disease that can only manifest if both parents are carriers, her secret comes out. During the years of trying to get pregnant, David and Celeste went through rigorous genetic testing, and this can only mean one thing… David is not Rori’s father. As Celeste falls apart, she is abandoned by her friends and goes on a binge. Events unfurl as she ends up drunkenly committing a crime, and winds up in Minnesota, living under a different name and working at a diner. She makes friends and begins to attend AA meetings, where her life changes, yet again.

After having abandoned her daughter, months have passed and she’s finally convinced that it’s time to return to her home and face the consequences of her actions. She returns to find that she’s barely been missed, and that David told Rori that Celeste had died, rather than tell her that her own mother abandoned her. Things don’t go exactly as Celeste expected, so what happens now?

This one was a rollercoaster. As a mother, I couldn’t abandon my child, much less while they fight for their lives in a hospital. It certainly makes you think of what you would do to keep a secret, to protect your family. When you lose it all, how would you react? But can a mother ever truly leave her child?

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Unspeakable Things – Jess Lourey

Unspeakable Things

Based on a true story! Life for preteen Cassie and her older sister is anything but normal. She and her sister live in poverty on a farm with her parents, miles from the nearest neighbors, and though her father is a mean drunk, Cassie is happy with her life. She loves her band teacher, though she’s only mediocre at her instrument. She has a crush on a young man who rides her bus and attends the same school.

Then things start to change. Young boys begin to go missing, and the rumors of what happens to them are almost too vulgar for young Cassie to understand. Several of her classmates are affected, and blame is thrown around to nearly every adult male in Lilydale, including her father, her band teacher, and even the sheriff.

Throughout the nightmare, her parents continue to host their wild parties, and ingratiate those in power.

Cassie fancies herself an amateur detective, and takes it upon herself to investigate the kidnapping and rapes. Especially once her worst nightmare occurs. Her beloved crush is kidnapped. Despite being cornered by one of the victims, and seeing how the rapes have changed the boys she once knew, she discovers the common link in all of the victims. But will she find her crush in time?

This one got me. I read a lot of crime thrillers and the story being told from the viewpoint of an uninvolved preteen was quite different than the usual story told from an adult or police viewpoint. While I felt that more could have been explained, and that the story overall left more than a few questions unanswered, it was a decent read, and it’s terrible to think that this was based on a true story that the author lived through.

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Saving Noah – Lucinda Berry

Saving Noah

Another gem written by Lucinda Berry. “We forgive murderers, not pedophiles.” With a tagline like that, who could resist the temptation to read this one?

Adrianne has the perfect life. A happy marriage, a talented and handsome son, a beautiful daughter, her dream home… Until with one confession, it all shatters.

When Adrianne’s fifteen-year-old son, Noah, begins acting strangely and suddenly quits his summer job as a swimming instructor for children, she had no idea that her world was about to change, and not for the better. Noah finally confesses to her that he has molested two of the seven-year-olds that he instructs. Noah’s parents immediately notify the families of the two girls, and attempt to talk it out rationally. Noah winds up in a juvenile sexual offender facility for eighteen months, where he is raped, tortured, and forced to endure electroshock therapy in order to “cure” his pedophilia. He is a model patient, almostĀ too perfect, according to the head of the facility.

Once Noah’s release date approaches, Noah’s father refuses to let him move back in to the family home, since he has to protect their daughter from possibly facing the same fate as those little girls. Adrianne is forced to move into a tiny apartment with the bare essentials so that Noah will have a place to go. While Adrianne and her husband have an arrangement for family visits, Noah’s father wants nothing to do with him. Ultimately, Noah ends up in a psychiatric facility for twice attempting suicide.

Told in first person narrative by Adrianne, with the occasional Him (Then) flashback, this novel keeps you in suspense without you even knowing it, until the final Him (Now) chapter. Follow Adrianne’s battle to keep her family together, to keep Noah from hurting himself, and ultimately, her inner turmoil when Noah asks the unthinkable of her.

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