Book, books, books... My little present to myself meant ignoring any form of housework that didn't involve a reading light and a three hundred page escape from Christmas carols and presents, cooking and eating food that came from boxes with the word helper on the front and turning a blind eye to the little pieces of Christmas wrap and hundreds of presents strewn across the hardwood floor. And boy, was it worth it.
I found three gems...absolute gems in a genre I don't typically read. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, Stranger Within and The Girl With No Past both by Kathryn Croft. It has been a chilling weekend of late night, with every light in the house on reading.
The Stranger Within, by Kathryn Croft and published in 2014 by Bookouture, is dark and twisty (not in the uber sarcastic, self-absorbed Buffy the Vampire Slayer way). This is darker and twistier than even I could have predicted. The chilling details of betrayal, adultery, suspicion are played out in a present/past format that focuses on Callie and her desire to be a parent to her new husband's teenage sons. The lengths she goes to protect her family, ward off the mental illness she feels is taking over her life, and to deal with the petulance and overwhelming hatred from her stepsons is written in such a way that even though she commits the ultimate marital sin, kept me rooting for her. With a heroine who makes every bad decision she could possibly make, it would be easy to turn away this book without reading, but it would be a tragic mistake. This writer, again, threw in a few red herrings, kept me guessing, and astounded me with the big reveal. I could never have guessed and I LOVED that about this book. Definitely a 5 star read.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens is a 384 page psychological masterpiece published by St. Martin's Press in 2014 and is told from the MC's POV as she tells the story to her shrink. Abducted from an open house, Annie is held hostage for a year by "The Freak" who terrorized her, beat her, put her on a pee schedule and denied her food and light for the biggest part of her captivity. Coming to terms with her new phobias and fears, while uncovering the mystery of why this was done to her, leads Annie down a startling emotional path all the while trying to reintegrate herself into her life "before." Without revealing too much, all I can say is if Annie wasn't on the verge of destruction during and immediately after her destruction, finding who was responsible for the mess that has become her life should have destroyed her. I will admit I didn't care for Annie in the beginning, but as I continued to read, I became more and more engrossed in her story. Told in such a smart fashion, seeing her struggles through her eyes, hearing about it in her words drew me in so that I refused to put this book down until I read the last page. Another 5 star read!
The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft is a 300 page thriller, full of suspense and turns that kept me guessing through every single page. Although, when I went to write this review, I couldn't remember a single thing about the book and had to go back, I didn't mind because I knew that as I read the book, I was completely engrossed (the kind that makes me ignore phone calls from folks I haven't spoken to in ages and conversations of my children). Published in 2015 by Bookouture, this psychological thriller focuses on Leah and an incident in her past that is fast threatening to catch up with her. Stalked by an unknown stranger, someone who knows her darkest secret, Leah locks herself away with no one--well, one someone--to help her. It isn't until the mystery stalker makes his/her presence known that Leah figures out why her life is systematically being destroyed. Gripping, chilling, smart, with a heroine I couldn't quite love, didn't have a real reason to hate, this is one of those books that kept me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page until I knew the truth. This author has a way of drawing the reader in while guarding the secrets closely for the big reveal at the end. I can only give it 4 stars because though I read other books this weekend, I had to go back and look up the details I'd forgotten.