[594]: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

24733600 The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
Double Day Canada | Hardcover, 352 pp.
Via Penguin Random House Canada
Publication Date: October 13th, 2015
Young Adult | Suspense | Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

Very few books have surprised me this year. Whether it be a twist I never saw coming or book I didn’t think I would like, this year has been a year of expected experiences. Admittedly, I chose The Masked truth on account of the author. Kelley Armstrong has always been someone I admire. I was surprised to find that this book is not Paranormal or Urban Fantasy, for that matter. So I was very excited to read something out of the ordinary. This book reminded me of The Breakfast Club featuring a group of slightly more troubled teens.  I’ve enjoyed every bit of this read. It was full of suspense and nothing ever turned the way I expected. Kelley Armstrong truly busted out some fresh new chops for this one.


Riley Vazquez has been through so much in the last couple of years. After her father was gunned down while doing his job, she witnessed the killing of the people she was babysitting for. Needless to say, she’s been in a dark place lately. When she agreed to join her therapy group at a sleep-away for the weekend, she didn’t think the scare tactics would be a part of the session.

Masked men armed with guns held them hostage all in the name of the almighty dollar. But is it really all about the money? She’d soon discover that it was all a part of a grander, much more elaborate scheme.


A lot of people would probably tell you that this book can be unbelievable at times (and they would be right). I don’t know anything about therapy, but I’ve never heard of a sleep-away camp held in a warehouse without doors and windows. That alone is a dead-give-away that something’s afoot. Couple that with Riley’s incredible expertise on investigative methodology and you’ve got yourself a Ripley’s Believe it or Not contender.  Oddly enough, I didn’t mind it at all. Fiction is funny that way.


The Masked Truth is one heck of a ride. Thrilling, suspenseful, a real page-turner. Oh and it’s got a nice romance to sweeten the pot. Riley Vazquez is a tough cookie who uses her smarts and intuitive candor to get out of sticky situations time and again. This is one instance when I wish it’s a series!

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[592]: The Dirt on Ninth Grave Darynda Jones

23848452 The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson, #9
E-ARC via Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 12th, 2016
Adult Fiction | Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

In a small village in New York lives Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she’s more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her—even from her new and trusted friends—the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn’t help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she’s lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.

At the beginning of 2015, I decided to discover some really good Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series. Charley Davidson, though well known amongst bloggers that I follow, was something I’ve always felt like a series I would not be able to enjoy. But the increasing noise from others about the books could no longer be ignored. In March, I gave in and picked up the first book. It only took one book and the rest, as they say, is history.

*** Warning: Some spoilers up ahead ***


The end of book 8 showed how Charley lost her marbles when she had to give up their daughter for hers and the world’s sake.  She unleashed unimaginable sorrow with the choice they had to make.  She literally vanished into the thin air, to Reyes’ heartbreaking woe. Ms. Jones, at least, made sure she gave us a glimpse of where Charley ended up. So you can only imagine how anxious I was for the 9th book.


Meanwhile, Janey Doerr was found in a back alley without any memories and recollections of who she was. But with the small town spirit and the generosity of strangers, she was able to find a place to live and a job waitressing at a diner. In an honest-to-goodness Charley Davidson fashion, Janey was able to make friends left and right. There’s Cookie and her husband, Bobert; the diner owner who lets her get away with a lot of things; the handsome strangers who she seems to keep bumping into; and the few dead people who hones on her like a heat-seeking missle. Oh and there was that dead dog with the affinity to showers and a thirteen-year-old angel who propositions her any chance he gets. So maybe not remembering things about your life wasn’t so bad after all.


If you’re one of those people who have followed this series and have been feeling blasé about the last few instalments, you’re in for a treat! Reading book 9 is like starting anew. I especially enjoyed watching Janey and Reyes pussyfoot around each other. It’s like Ms. Jones gave us an alternate universe where Charley is newly discovering the hotness that is, Reyes. It is also fun to watch her discover her powers (mostly by accident) and meet all the dead people that sought her light. At the same time, I would’ve liked to see her react differently to the unsualness of meeting dead people. I thought Janey could’ve at least tried to act terrified at first because she wasn’t used to seeing them all her life.


This was a wonderful instalment that shows how long series should be done. Ms. Jones was able to freshen it up without veering away from the story arch she’s started. You will laugh, you will cry and in the Reyes-Dutch fashion, it will get you hot under the collar!

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[590]: The Liar by Nora Roberts

23281906-1 The Liar by Nora Roberts
Penguin Publishing Group | Hardcover, 501 pp.
April 14th, 2015
Adult Fiction | Romantic Suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …

Whenever I feel the onset of boredom from whatever book I’m reading, I tend to turn to Romantic Suspense to jump start my waning interest. Now, my conventional drug is Sandra Brown, but I’ve always been interested in other authors who are a household name in this genre. Like, Nora Roberts, for example. I haven’t had much experience with her books. Aside from a couple of her In Death books (which I loved), I’ve not had the chance to read anything from her extensive library. This week, I finally decided to check her out for myself.


Shelby Foxworth has a lot to learn about the man with whom she married. It’s a shame that she had to learn all about him posthumously. Recently widowed, the once prosperous life that she’d grown accustomed to was apparently nothing but a sham. As it didn’t take long for all the debtors to come knocking on her door a few days after her husband “drowned” in a boating accident. In debt to the tune of a couple of million dollars, Shelby meticulously planned out how she would be able to pay all the debts her husband incurred. Little by little, she’d find out that the man she married lived a duplicitous life.


Shelby was one of those women who has the admirable trait of being able to pick herself up no matter how far she’d fallen. The two-million dollar debt should’ve been debilitating to some, but that didn’t deter her from wanting to move on and build a life for her and her daughter. After finding out that Richard was a con-man who victimized the wealthy, she high-tailed it back to her hometown and into the welcoming arms of her family. Here, she tried to bridge the rift between her and her loved ones when she decided to marry Richard. Because Richard was a controlling husband; one who preferred their wives to be docile and alone.

For the first time in her life, she was able to see that there could be a future for her and Callie, her daughter. Surrounded by family, old friends, and new acquaintances. She also meets Griffin; a man determined to help her see that she could trust a man to take care of her and Callie without having to incapacitate her independence.

The novel is long and arduous, unfortunately. I am not that familiar with her method of storytelling, but I felt like it could’ve used a chunk of trimming. Since this book was supposed to be Romantic Suspense, it was neither romantic nor suspenseful. In fact, the mystery was so transparent that a reader could see the twist from the get-go.


This book is not in the speed of her In Death series. It was slow – as slow as molasses in the winter. In my opinion, the story could’ve been told in 300 pages or less. But I suppose Roberts wanted to show Shelby go through a reborn of sorts.


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