DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard (Audiobook)


Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Release Date: February 2, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads, “I’m sorry—S” sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate—and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…


As I was listening to Catherine Ryan Howard’s nerve-racking debut thriller, I kept wondering if the book was sold in cruise ship gift shops. If so — eek! Nothing like adding some paranoia to your vacation! Seriously though, DISTRESS SIGNALS was an amazing read. There are many layers to this complex mystery, and the characters really stand out.

When Adam Dunne’s girlfriend Sarah doesn’t return from a business trip, he manages to track her last whereabouts to a Mediterranean cruise ship called the Celebrate. Was she the victim of foul play, or did she decide to disappear on her own? The cruise ship company is less than helpful, and Adam soon discovers that these ships are like their own little cutoff worlds. Maritime law can be a tricky and frustrating thing. When Adam learns of another woman’s disappearance on the same ship a year earlier, he ends up on the Celebrate himself to search for answers.

I enjoyed this book very much. It felt realistic as to what someone would go through to find a missing loved one. Nice build up of tension watching Adam goes through the steps, and trying to figure out how the other characters connect with Sarah’s disappearance. I loved as the layers unfolded, leading up to a surprising twist that changed everything. DISTRESS SIGNALS is going on my 2017 favorites list!


Audiobook • 11 hrs, 42 mins • Narrators: Alan Smyth, Bronson Pinchot, Suzanne Toren

Wonderful performances all-around for the audio version of DISTRESS SIGNALS. Alan Smyth was the voice of Adam, and he did a great job conveying Adam’s desperation and confusion during his search for Sarah. To avoid spoilers, I don’t want to go into detail about Bronson Pinchot’s and Suzanne Toren’s characters, but I will say that their performances were spot-on too, capturing their characters’ nuances. I’d highly recommend giving this book a listen!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel


Publisher: Crown
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: ARC from Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★


After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


I was excited to see a suspense novel set in Kansas! Unfortunately, though, I don’t think THE ROANOKE GIRLS will endear anyone to my state. Oh boy.

Considering that the big dark secret is revealed in the beginning, I wouldn’t classify this book as suspense; it’s more of a major dysfunctional family drama. The subject matter is disturbing, but what really bugged me was that everyone was so matter-of-fact about it. That’s just how it was, and the characters weren’t particularly offended by it, at least not to the level you’d think they’d be. Weird.

The story held my interest, and I was very curious to learn why cousin Allegra disappeared, and to see if Lane would be able to escape Roanoke again. In the end, I guess I was hoping for a little something more. I’ve seen many positive reviews for this book, and some negative. I’m somewhere in the middle, just like Kansas. ;-)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE by Mindy Mejia

everythingyouwant
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger? 

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery — or destruction?


Fantastic! I’ve read many books in the suspense/thriller genre, and this is one of the best. EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE is an engrossing, character-driven mystery that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

The story is about the murder of a Minnesota farm girl named Hattie, who dreamed of a career on the stage in New York after high school. Her acting talent allowed her to be all things to everyone. Was she a heartless manipulator, or simply a teenager searching for identity? Hattie tells us her story in the months leading up to her killing, and the chapters alternate with two other characters’ POVs, including the town’s sheriff investigating the shocking crime.

This was such a great book! I loved the complicated characters and suspenseful plot. The twisty ending was amazing. Even as unsettling as its subject matter was, the book’s last lines were haunting and lovely, and they got me choked up. Gah! I’m eagerly anticipating Mindy Mejia’s next book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.