Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

9780451499578

Here and Gone tells the tale of a mother’s worst nightmare: someone taking her children and no one believing her. They were here with her one minute and gone the next. And now fingers of the townspeople and the law are pointing at her.

She was desperate to leave her abusive husband and set out with her 10 and 6 year old kids across the country to seek refuge with a friend.  On the way to a new beginning, free from her husband’s abuse, Audra is stopped (in what appears to be a routine traffic stop) by a sheriff in a small, old-fashioned town and everything changes in an instant. A large bag of weed which was obviously planted in her trunk, is found during the stop, so now the sheriff can take her in for questioning and press charges for possession with intent to sell. With Audra’s history of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, she doesn’t stand a chance in the eye of her accusers, even when she has been clean for two years. As she watches helplessly locked in the back of the sheriff’s car, another policewoman comes and loads her children up to take them to a “safe place.” Locked in the town jail until she can appear in court the next morning, Audra demands to know where her children are, but the only response she receives is “what children?”.

How can she ever find her children when no one in the town believes that the children were in the car with her when she was stopped by the sheriff? And it certainly doesn’t help when her terror of a husband and evil mother-in-law portray their side of the story to the media, painting a portrait of Audra as an abuser and unfit mother who has likely killed her children. Talk about an impossible situation to be in. I was blown away by the sheer terror of this story, and I could not put it down until I figured out how Audra was going to find Sean and Louise.

The story switches back and forth between the points of view of Audra, her children, and a stranger named Danny Lee. When the reader is introduced to Danny Lee, he or she may wonder what in the world he has to do with the kidnapping of Audra’s children, but Danny Lee becomes very important to the plot. You’ll see!

This book was terrifying, but so good that I read the whole thing in a few hours last night. The characters are uniquely drawn and the plot is well thought out as well. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, that’s for sure. Major props to Haylen Beck for a fascinating and stimulating roller-coaster novel. It’s sure to be a summer hit and I would highly recommend it for fans of suspense, thrillers, and mysteries.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for the review copy. It was wonderful!! I can’t wait for her next book to release.

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

After seeing all the buzz for this book and all the comparisons to Gone Girl, I decided I would give it a try. Then, I was on a hold list forever and that caused me to want to read it even more. Funny how that happens! Well, I finally read it and I’m not entirely sure what the big hubbub is all about. It wasn’t as crazy weird as Gone Girl, and I do believe this story would make a better movie than Gone Girl. There are three characters who are narrating the story, Rachel, Anna, and Megan. The chapters switch back and forth between the three women and also back and forth over the span of a few months. I wouldn’t advise trying to pay attention to the timeline while you read, because I tried and got too caught up in it and lost momentum for reading.

Rachel is an alcoholic, and therefore, a mostly unreliable narrator. Anna is Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, and she is not a fan of Rachel for various reasons which you will soon figure out by reading the beginning of the book. Megan is a neighbor down the street from Anna’s house (which is also Rachel’s old house). Rachel rides the train every day and becomes quite interested in watching Megan’s house, while trying to avoid looking at her old house. One day she sees something out of place, and her obsession builds from there. Meanwhile, Megan goes missing and the night it happens, Rachel is so drunk that she blacks out and has no memory of where she was, or why she came home battered and bloody. Could she have done something to Megan? Does she really know what happened? Did she see who took Megan? The story does move along rather quickly, and I’m glad I read it. But, I just didn’t have the feeling that I couldn’t put it down and I’m not in love with it. If you like psychological suspense and stories where all the characters are a bit off their rockers, this is the book for you.