Both Cross Her Heart and When the Lights Go Out were two of my most anticipated reads of the year. They were also books on my Twenty Books of Summer 2018 Challenge Reading List; I did manage to read both before the Sept 3rd end of the challenge date, but as some of you know, I was in the Cardiac ICU for 2 weeks the end of August and then took a couple of weeks blogging break after I came home to work on my recovery, so my reviews for both got delayed. So, I decided that I would write back to back reviews for both to catch up on my reviews of these two books: one that I loved and one that I still have mixed feelings about…
Book Title and Author: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
Publication Date and Publisher: September 04, 2018 by William Morrow
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: July 27, 2018 (e-arc)
Lisa lives a very quiet life. A single mother nearing forty, she devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Wary of men, Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father. Her best friend Marilyn wishes she would open up more and maybe finally go on a date—with the sexy new client who’s obviously keen—but Marilyn has problems of her own.
Ava is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager—chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend. Her mom would freak if she knew that Ava’s already got someone special, someone who makes her feel sophisticated—and wanted.
Lisa has spent a long time looking over her shoulder, but lately she’s been especially uneasy. Small things from the past have begun to appear in the present, feeding her anxiety. As her life begins to unravel, Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears. Yet courage won’t be enough. She’ll need help from the only person she can trust—Marilyn. Between them they have to save Ava, and to do that, they have to be honest with each other. Truly honest. Marilyn did promise she’d do anything to help.
But a long time ago, Lisa made a promise too. Then she broke her word. And that betrayal hasn’t been forgotten—or forgiven.
Now, someone is going to make her pay for her sin.
Cross Her Heart is the first book that I’ve read by Sarah Pinborough…I know, I know…I have Behind Her Eyes staring at me on my bookshelf every time I walk past, and I really want to pick it up as soon as my ARCS slow down because I’m dying to know all about the #WTFthatending that took Twitter by storm last year! So I jumped at the chance to read Cross Her Heart to see if Pinborough is the type of psychological suspense author who I love. It turns out that she is, and she slayed this book!
It seems I’ve been reading quite a few mother-daughter books lately and in Cross Her Heart, you can’t find a more devoted, loving, protective mother than Lisa. Her 16-year-old daughter Ava is her entire world, almost literally since Lisa does nothing but go to work, come back home, and occasionally spend time with her best friend Marilyn, who is also very attached to Ava.
But Lisa has no other friends, no family, doesn’t talk about her past, has no social life, and doesn’t date. Either Lisa is the most devoted mom in the world to want to spend every moment with her teenage daughter or she’s hiding an enormous secret from her past, which it turns out that she is and what a shocking secret; I did NOT see that one coming from miles away!
But that’s okay because it turns out that Ava, who is trying to be much more independent, and Marilyn, who appears to have the perfect marriage and perfect life, are both hiding their own secrets. But which one of them is hiding a secret that could get them all killed…
The plot slowly unfolds as Pinborough reveals all the secrets, lies, and deceptions surrounding the main characters in chapters told in Before, Now, and After sections. Believe me though, this is a super-fast read as the pace quickly picks up, and you’re left astounded and often times very disturbed at some of the things that are revealed!
While this is a book that grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the very last twisty reveal, it is a very dark and unsettling read at times, and I do want to warn that there is quite graphic and disturbing content involving child abuse and sexual abuse that might be a trigger for some. Even my bloodthirsty soul cried during a few of the more graphic scenes, so they are quite hard to take.
Still, this was a fabulous read and I already know that I love Pinborough’s style! It was a bit predictable in places like most thrillers are, but I loved it enough to read it one sitting. I’m definitely recommending this one, and I’m not going to let 2018 slip by without reading Behind Her Eyes so I can find out about that ending! I’m so glad that one of my most anticipated reads of the year more than met my expectations! Yay!
**Thank you Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**
Book Title and Author: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Publication Date and Publisher: September 4, 2018 by Park Row
Genre: Domestic Suspense, Mystery
Pages: 208 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: July 28, 2018 (e-arc)
Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.
Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?
I adore Mary Kubica. She’s a super talented author, and I love her writing style. I own (and love) all her previous books, so I was all excited to read When the Lights Go Out. I’ve wavered back and forth on what I thought about this book since reading it, and I might as well go ahead and say something about the ending before I go on! It’s definitely an ending that some will love, some will hate and others will be somewhere in the middle about. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either although I do see why some do love it.
I love a smooth, smoldering, slow burn novel, and that is exactly what you get with When the Lights Go Out. It’s not Kubica’s typical psychological thriller style, and that’s okay. I enjoy it when an author tries new things. This book is more domestic suspense and there’s plenty of that in this drama filled novel!
The story is told from the perspectives of Jessie in the present day and her mother Eden in the past. Jessie’s mother has just died after a long bout with cancer, and she’s promised her mom after years of taking care of her that she’ll start a new life. There’s one little problem though-when Jessie applies for college, her social security number comes up as the same number as a little girl who died years ago.
This information sends Jessie, who is grief-stricken over the loss of her mom and suffering from severe insomnia and its crazy symptoms, looking for answers about who she is. No birth certificate can be found, she has no idea who her father is, and without her mom, she has no one to ask. On record, Jessie doesn’t exist, so she begins to question her real identity and because she hasn’t slept in days, her sanity.
In flashbacks to Eden’s story, we learn how desperately she and her then-husband wanted a child. How she wanted to be a mother so badly that she went through every kind of fertility treatment and in-vitro until they had no money or marriage left between them. What would Eden’s desperation drive her to do to be a mother??
Because of Kubica’s stellar writing and characterizations, I felt like I was right there with Eden and Jessie. And because I’ve experienced the agony of days spent awake with no sleep because I have severe insomnia, I completely empathized with Jessie. Jessie’s insomnia and feelings of going crazy give the book an almost manic air at times. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading because the tension was just so palpable!
Then there is the infamous ending that just threw me for a loop! My goodness that ending! Wow, it was a shocker and honestly, it frustrated and drove me crazy! It was a brave but risky writing move by Kubica since it has certainly had its share of lovers and haters.
Yet no matter how I feel about the ending, I’ll always be a fan of Kubica’s writing and do recommend you read When the Lights Go Out to check out the ending that has everyone talking! I can’t wait to see what surprises Kubica has planned in her next novel!!
**Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin-Park Row for an ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**