Friday, August 31, 2018

Review: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica


Title: When the Lights Go Out
Author: Mary Kubica
Published: September 2018, Park Row Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica  

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?



My thoughts: I have been a fan of Mary Kubica's books ever since meeting her at Book Expo back in 2014 when she was there signing copies of her debut book, The Good Girl. I have read each and every book she has written and anxiously await her new one each year and let me tell you, this latest one definitely did not disappoint!

This book has so many parts that I could relate to - first and foremost the insomnia angle. OMG - I think that was what had me so excited for this book because I unfortunately suffer from this all too often and was curious to see what Mary Kubica would do with that in a story line. It's not something I've seen tackled before and WOW...it definitely makes me want to get a handle on it for my own sanity!

I loved the way this story is told - alternating timelines that quickly pull you into each character's life. Jessie in the present day and Eden starting in 1996. The way the Mary Kubica writes her characters and story, we become completely enthralled in their lives as they each spiral out of control - Jessie as she copes with her grief and becomes an insomniac and ends up not sleeping for nine days straight; Eden as she makes it her sole focus to become a mother, to the point it becomes a complete obsession, practically destroying everything else in her life. And of course, the whole time, we are wondering how these characters and their stories will intersect.

So many times I thought I had things figured out, I thought for sure I knew where this story was going to end up, and then a new development would throw that theory out the window. I was so invested in this book, I was emotionally attached to these characters and just wanted to know what was going to happen. Never would I have guessed the ending...and I loved it! I actually gasped out loud - it took me by such surprise. But that's such a good thing! This book is such a good read - it's intense, it's emotional, it's suspenseful right up to that final reveal. I definitely recommend picking this one up! Mary - you did it again and I can't wait to see what comes next!!!


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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia


Title: Leave No Trace
Author: Mindy Mejia
Published: September 2018, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 336 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher


Summary:
From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later. 

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later...the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.



My thoughts: I loved Mindy Mejia's last book, Everything You Want Me To Be, so of course, I was thrilled when asked to read and review her latest book, Leave No Trace. This was an author I was patiently waiting for to release a new book and I was psyched to have an early copy in my hands...and it did not disappoint!

Once again, Mindy Mejia thrills us with quite an addicting read, though I will say, this one does start off a little slower than the last one. But, once you get into the book, it is so worth the read. I liked that is very different, though, from her last book - this author proves that not only is she not a one-hit wonder, but she is also not a one trick pony. She totally changes things up here and the story is just as addicting and compelling as her previous book. 

What I loved is that this story is filled with dynamic, complex characters that drive the story just as much as the plot does. But equally important is the setting - this book is completely reliant on the setting to help drive the story. The Boundary Waters were almost a character themselves. This book is definitely atmospheric in nature and the writing is so vivid in that respect that it speaks for itself.

The characters are all flawed and you end up becoming attached to them. I loved the way their history is slowly revealed. You start off not knowing a whole lot about either main character, Maya or Lucas, yet as the story progresses, you watch both of them come into themselves. The layers are unraveled and we learn quite a bit about each of them, unraveling not only who they are but why they are the way they are. This is a multilayered story, with not only a great mystery to it, but some history thrown in as well. The stories of the isolationists adds a nice depth to this already layered tale. 

This was a thrilling, addictive read and I cannot wait to see what comes next from this author - she is definitely on my must-read list!


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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Title: Trust Me
Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Published: August 2018, Forge Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
An accused killer insists she's innocent of a heinous murder.

A grieving journalist surfaces from the wreckage of her shattered life.

Their unlikely alliance leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that will leave you breathless.

Who can you trust when you can't trust yourself?

Trust Me is the chilling standalone novel of psychological suspense and manipulation that award-winning author and renowned investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan was born to write.



My thoughts: This is Hank Phillippi Ryan's first standalone novel and she absolutely has a winner on her hands. I was riveted from start to finish, and every time I thought I knew where it was headed, she would change things up - the twists and turns really keep things moving. I was all over the place with this book, and loved every second of it...it really plays with your mind, wondering if what you are being told is the truth or some version of it. Who can you trust?

This book is so cleverly written - it truly is a master game of cat and mouse. How do we know when someone is truly telling us the truth? Is it because people tell us they are telling the truth? Is it because the facts prove it? What happens when those facts have been manipulated? What happens when you are not totally objective to the subject matter? Does this affect how you see the "truth" as it is told to you? These are the questions that Hank Phillippi Ryan sets out to explore in this novel and let me tell you, it is quite a ride!

I loved the fast pace of this book and how it never really lets up. It's easy to be drawn in by Mercer and Ashlyn and their stories, but can we trust everything they say? This is really what this book boils down to - what and who can you trust? And ironically, a common phrase said repeatedly by multiple characters was, "Trust me." After hearing that said over and over again, you start to wonder just who you can trust and who is manipulating the truth.

The two main characters - Mercer and Ashlyn - are well developed and quite complex. Mercer's grief is raw and palpable. Her daily routine of writing on the mirror each day was a painful reminder of how she lives on without her family, yet it felt real...she was struggling, yet she was doing something. Ashlyn is the kind of character you love to hate. She is manipulative and became more unlikeable, at least to me, as the story progressed.

This book is brilliantly plotted  and intense, and really keeps you guessing all the way until the end. It is without a doubt one of the best psychological thrillers I've read and I definitely suggest picking it up - Trust Me...you don't want to miss this one!


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Monday, August 27, 2018

Review: The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker


Title: The Waiting Room
Author: Emily Bleeker
Published: August 2018, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 260 pages
Source: Publisher via Publicist


Summary:
From the bestselling author of When I’m Gone and Working Fire comes a gripping novel about a mother, her missing daughter, and the dark secrets that engulf them. 

Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?

After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.

As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun.



My thoughts: Last year, I read my first book by Emily Bleeker - Working Fire - and I knew I would be reading her again...and so I was ecstatic to get my hands on her latest book, The Waiting Room. This book once again kept me glued to the pages...she can definitely tell a story like no other!

This book is such an emotional read for a lot of reasons, but at the same time, it's also one of the those books that you find yourself completely consumed with and unable to walk away from. Once I started it, I was totally invested in the story line and just had to know what was going on. And let me just say - this is definitely one of those books where you think you know what is going on but you couldn't be further from the truth. This is one of those books where you get blind-sighted not just once, but a few times...and that just hooks you even more!

This is an intense read and it builds as the book progresses. It touches on loss and grief and the way we react to such trauma. When you add in the emotional element, it really makes for a different experience than your normal psychological thriller because you end up caring for Veronica. And the other characters are just as complex and complicated - no one is as they first seem. 

This book is such an amazing read and I definitely recommend it...it's emotional, it's twisty, and it's totally binge-worthy! Pick it up...you won't be sorry! 


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Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone


Title: Jane Doe
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Published: August 2018, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback,  258 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
A double life with a single purpose: revenge.
  
Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.



My thoughts: This was such a fun, psychological thriller and it was so different than any of the other psychological thrillers I've read recently and I think that's what made me love it even more! This was my first time reading anything by Victoria Helen Stone and not only do I hope she writes a sequel to this book - please let there be more Jane to come!!! - but I definitely plan on reading anything else she writes if it's anything like this one.

I love Jane...she's a self-proclaimed sociopath, but my god, I love her! She was the best protagonist I've read in a while - she's absolutely crazy, but she's totally aware of it and makes no apologies for it. And the best part - she's a reader! How can you not love her? I loved that she and she alone tell this story - there are no other narrators. Her wit and sarcasm just fly off the pages and it so fits with the whole sociopathic persona. 

This book is one you will fly through...it's a fast read, but more importantly, it's one you get sucked into because there really isn't a complicated plot. It's your basic revenge plot but the way it's told just pulls you in. And Jane, with her outright vindictiveness and manipulative behavior, makes you want to binge-read this story because you just fall in love with her. I totally want to be her in my next life - is that not crazy? Trust me, after you read this book, you will totally understand.

I loved this book and I think you should totally do yourself a favor and pick it up - it's a fun, addicting, totally binge-worthy read! You can thank me later :)


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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day


Title: Under a Dark Sky
Author: Lori Rader-Day
Published: August 2018, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 416 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
Only in the dark can she find the truth . . .
  
Since her husband died, Eden Wallace's life has diminished down to a tiny pinprick, like a far-off star in the night sky. She doesn't work, has given up on her love of photography, and is so plagued by night terrors that she can't sleep without the lights on. Everyone, including her family, has grown weary of her grief. So when she finds paperwork in her husband's effects indicating that he reserved a week at a dark sky park, she goes. She's ready to shed her fear and return to the living, even if it means facing her paralyzing phobia of the dark.

But when she arrives at the park, the guest suite she thought was a private retreat is teeming with a group of twenty-somethings, all stuck in the orbit of their old college friendships. Horrified that her get-away has been taken over, Eden decides to head home the next day. But then a scream wakes the house in the middle of the night. One of the friends has been murdered. Now everyone—including Eden—is a suspect.

Everyone is keeping secrets, but only one is a murderer. As mishaps continue to befall the group, Eden must make sense of the chaos and lies to evade a ruthless killer—and she'll have to do it before dark falls…



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Lori Rader-Day and it definitely won't be the last. I loved this story - it was such a unique twist on the locked-room concept and one that had me glued to the pages! 

This book is a twisty whodunit involving a murder that takes place at a dark sky park - talk about atmospheric, claustrophobic and panic-inducing! It totally hooked me from the start and kept me engaged throughout. While I don't have a fear of the dark, I could totally feel Eden's phobia coming off pages - it was that palpable at times. 

I loved the way this story is set up. We are literally thrown into the situation and then slowly given the backstory in bits and drabs. As a result, we really don't know who we can trust and so are quite naturally suspicious of everyone. I loved the tension between the characters - this really added to the overall suspense of the book, and makes you doubly suspicious of everyone. 

Eden is such a great character. She is flawed, for sure, but she is also dealing with the loss of her husband and that grief has basically crippled her. She is still overcome with grief, but as we come to find out, there is more to that grief than we first realize. Her complexity and fear of the dark combined with her grief make her such a fascinating narrator...is she reliable or not?

This book really kept me on my toes the entire time. It's one of those "everyone is guilty" types of books and it makes for a fun reading experience as you try to work it out before the final reveal. The twists keep you guessing and the secrets and drama only add to the mystery and intrigue. I definitely recommend adding this to your summer reading list!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

Yesterday, Nicola Cornick's latest novel, The Phantom Tree, was published and to celebrate, I am helping the publisher get the word out. It sounds like it will be a great summer read - let me know if you decide to pick it up :)  I'll be listening to it on audio when I get a chance!



Title: The Phantom Tree
Author: Nicola Cornick
Published: August 2018, Graydon House
Format: Paperback, 384 pages


Summary:
“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait—supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better. The subject is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr, who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child. And Alison knows this because she, too, was in Wolf Hall...with Mary...in 1557.

The painting of Mary is more than just a beautiful object for Alison—it holds the key to her past life, the unlocking of the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance and how Alison can get back to her own time. But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbors secrets in its shadows...

A spellbinding tale for fans of Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Barbara Erskine by the bestselling author of House of Shadows.



What readers are saying: 

"There is much to enjoy in [this] sumptuous novel." --Sunday Mirror

"Filled with romance, drama, mystery and intrigue. Perfect for fans of Tracy Rees, Barbara Erskine, and Kate Riordan." --Historical Novel Society

"A brilliant time-slip novel with a great twist in the tail!" --Woman Magazine






About the author: USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.

Nicola's writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola's addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher's Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.


Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Instagram 

  


  The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick 
Graydon House 
August 21, 2018 
Paperbook ISBN: 978-1525805998 
eBook ISBN: B075QSTS9V

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones


Title: The Other Woman
Author: Sandie Jones
Published: August 2018, Minotaur Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
A deliciously disturbing, compulsively readable debut domestic suspense--prepare to meet The Other Woman: there’s nothing she won’t do to keep you away from her son ...

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.



My thoughts: I was so excited when this book showed up on my doorstep. First, I had been getting these awesome emails about the book and it definitely intrigued me...and then I was already seeing a lot of buzz about the book around Instagram, so I was quite excited about it, but on the other hand, I have to admit, I was a little nervous going in. Sometimes a book is so heavily buzzed about that it falls a little flat - but that is definitely not the case here...this book totally lives up to all its expectations and then some!

I loved everything about this book - from the setup to the crazy characters to the delivery. It totally hooks you from the first chapter and really never lets up. I had so many different theories about what was going on and never once did I guess where this book would end up - not at all!!! You may think you know how this story is going to go...but think again.

This book is one of those addicting, quick reads. The short chapters only add to that and you quickly become immersed in the story line. This psychological thriller definitely plays with your mind, and you find that you just can't get enough of it. The characters are great - some you will love and some you will love to hate. I love characters like that and I love authors that have the ability to create characters like that. And what's even better is that it's not just the main characters that are well developed, but also the secondary characters, too. Sandie Jones really takes the time to flush out all the characters.

This is one of those books where it really is best to go in blind...it is so much more enjoyable that way. I read this during my vacation at the beach and totally lost myself to Pammie's crazy world and loved every minute of it. I highly encourage you do to the same...just pick up the book and enjoy it for what it is...a fun, engaging, crazy psychological thriller!


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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Review: The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner (audio)


Title: The Husband Hour
Author: Jamie Brenner
Narrator: Christie Moreau
Published: April 2018, Hachette Audio
Length: 10 hours 47 minutes
Source: Hachette Audio via Libro.fm

Summary: 
When a young widow's reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind. 

Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny.

Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time.

One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future.




My thoughts: Jamie Brenner is a new-to-me author, but I know this is not her first book. And based on how much I loved this story, I will definitely be keeping her on my list of authors to read.

This is such an emotional and powerful story. It tackles a topic that is just starting to gain traction in the media and one that really needs to be given our full attention - that of traumatic brain injuries not only in pro athletes but also in our younger athletes. And it also looks at PTSD. Both these topics are quite heavy in and of themselves, but the way Jamie Brenner weaves her story around them, was both poignant and touching and you actually feel a glimmer of hope that awareness is forthcoming.

The story also delves into family relationships and all the complexities that come with that. Family drama, love and grief are all explored here. The characters are all perfectly flawed and relatable. The characters relationships and struggles were believable. Having two sisters myself, I felt horrible for Lauren about the complicated relationship she had with her sister. Especially at a time like this. This is when you need that relationship even more. As things are slowly revealed,  you understand why that relationship is the way it is, but boy did my heart break for her.

This book really was a fantastic read. While it wasn't the light and fluffy read I was at first expecting it to be, I still completely enjoyed it and would totally recommend it, plus it's set at the Jersey shore, so I think it still counts as a beach read, don't you?


Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Christie Moreau narrate a book and I think she did a good job. Her pacing and intonation was good. I enjoyed this audio book.  


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood


Title: Rust & Stardust
Author: T. Greenwood
Published: August 2018, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary:
Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.



My thoughts: This is the first time I've read anything by T. Greenwood, though I am familiar with her name, and do have another book sitting on my shelf (or rather in a box somewhere is storage) by her. This book, though, will certainly go down as one of my favorites of hers - it is so beautifully written, despite the fact that it tore my heart into pieces time and again.

This book is the fictional retelling of Sally Horner's kidnapping by Frank LaSalle and I fully admit to not knowing much about this case. And I purposely did not look anything up prior to reading this book as I wanted to experience it as T. Greenwood presented it. And I'm so glad I did...as chilling and heartbreaking as it was.

This is the kind of story that totally gets under your skin, yet it is also one that you cannot walk away from until you read that very last page. T. Greenwood does a fantastic job putting us right into the story, telling it from not only Sally's point of view, but also from other peoples points of view that were integral in Sally's life - her mother, her sister and a few other important women Sally meets, as well as Sally's brother-in-law, Al. You feel their pain and their despair at not knowing what to do to get Sally back.

This book packs such an emotional punch. It is loaded with triggers - both physical and mental abuse - but written in such a way that you are left to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. It is not overtly graphic in any way, yet you know that abuse is happening. 

An intense read that requires introspection while reading, it is definitely one of the best works of historical fiction I've read in a long time and certainly one I will for sure not be forgetting any time soon. I've never read Nabokov's Lolita, but knowing that Sally Horner's disappearance is what provided his inspiration, I am definitely putting it on my list to read. And this book is most definitely getting a place of honor on my bookshelf - it deserves it!!!


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Coroner by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush


Title: The Coroner
Author: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
Published: August 2018, Crooked Lane Books
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Publisher via Publicist


Summary:
Summoned from her promising surgical career first to her estranged father's bedside, and then his post as medical examiner when his small town needs urgent help with a suspicious death, Emily Hartford discovers home is where the bodies are in this pitch perfect mystery debut.

Recently engaged and deeply ensconced in her third year of surgical residency in Chicago, Emily Hartford gets a shock when she’s called home to Freeport, MI, the small town she fled a decade ago after the death of her mother. Her estranged father, the local medical examiner, has had a massive heart attack and Emily is needed urgently to help with his recovery.

Not sure what to expect, Emily races home, blowing the only stoplight at the center of town and getting pulled over by her former high school love, now Sheriff, Nick Larson. At the hospital, she finds her father in near total denial of the seriousness of his condition. He insists that the best thing Emily can do to help him is to take on the autopsy of a Senator’s teen daughter whose sudden, unexplained death has just rocked the sleepy town.

Reluctantly agreeing to help her father and Nick, Emily gets down to work, only to discover that the girl was murdered. The autopsy reminds her of her many hours in the morgue with her father when she was a young teen—a time which inspired her love of medicine. Before she knows it, she’s pulled deeper into the case and closer to her father and to Nick—much to the dismay of her big city fiance. When a threat is made to Emily herself, she must race to catch the killer before he strikes again in The Coroner, expertly written and sharply plotted, perfect for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Julia Spencer Fleming.



My thoughts: It's no surprise that I enjoy mystery and crime thrillers, so of course I said I would read and review this book. I love that the author herself is the daughter of a medical examiner - I think that just adds to the intrigue and authenticness of the book. She herself got involved in the medical examiner world at the age of 10! How cool is that?

I really enjoyed this debut mystery and I really hope it is the start of a series, especially with that ending we are left with! My goodness - talk about a cliffhanger! But as to the rest of the story - this mystery really did keep me guessing and being that I read a ton of mysteries, that's saying something.

I liked that Emily is a realistic, yet flawed character. She has issues! She has unresolved conflict with her father that really needs to be dealt with before she can move on with her life. Running away all those years ago really did nothing more than put her head in the sand. These secrets need to be dealt with and while we all know that nothing drives a story like a good secret, at some point, that secret needs to be dealt with. But I also liked that she is not afraid to stick to her guns when it comes to working on this case! She's got gumption and I like that!!!

I liked that the mystery was well thought out and we were given just enough clues here and there that the identity of the guilty person wasn't easily guessed. There were plenty of red herrings thrown our way to keep us on our toes with just enough twists to keep it suspenseful without going overboard. 

This book had just the right mix of good characters, an interesting plot, a good mystery and a little romance to keep you engaged throughout. Throw in some long-buried secrets and family drama and you have an engaging story that is hard to put down. I really enjoyed this book and will be keeping an eye out for a potential sequel or next installment in what I hope becomes a new series!


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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Bucket List by Georgia Clark


Title: The Bucket List
Author: Georgia Clark
Published: August 2018, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher


Summary:
From the author of the critically acclaimed “lively and engrossing parable for women of all generations” (Harper’s Bazaar) The Regulars­ comes a deeply funny and thoughtful tale of a young woman who, after discovering she has the breast cancer gene, embarks on an unforgettable bucket list adventure.

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn't want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. Ultimately, this is a story about Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things she thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. Both are things she will change by choosing to have a major surgery that could save her life, and will give her the future she really wants.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The Regulars, The Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Georgia Clark and as soon as I read the blurb about the book, I just knew it was something I wanted to read. Let's face it...this is something we all think about, we all fear happening to us or a loved one. And this is the type of book that definitely makes you think - WHAT WOULD YOU DO? What if  you found out you had the breast cancer gene mutation?

This book is both sexy and sobering...it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you blush. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny and then it will have you shedding tears of heartbreak. As you journey with Lacey on this year of introspection and fun as she decides what it is she really wants to do after finding out she has the breast cancer mutation gene, you will be hard-pressed not to become emotionally attached to Lacey and all that she is going through. 

It's a unique story in that it somehow manages to balance all the emotional baggage of the radical double mastectomy with a bucket list all about boobs. What does Lacey want to do now with her boobs that she might not be able to do after having them removed? It's this balancing of the ridiculousness (this is where it heads towards the heavy blushing stage!) and the emotional that make this book such a good read. And it also brings up a lot of food for thought. What would you do if you were in Lacey's position? Would you do the surgery right away or take some time and do your own bucket list?

This is an extremely powerful read and I think it also is an empowering read. And I think one of the most important messages that it delivers is to live your best life while you can. I definitely recommend this book.


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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly


Title: Everything That Follows
Author: Meg Little Reilly
Published: May 2018, MIRA
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley


Summary:
CAUGHT IN THE BACKWASH, THEY HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES…

For fans of Megan Abbott and Chris Bohjalian comes a novel of moral complexity about friends who must choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing in the wake of a fatal boating accident. Set in the moody off-season of Martha’s Vineyard, Everything That Follows is a plunge into the dark waters of secrets and flexible morals. The truth becomes whatever we say it is…

Around midnight, three friends take their partying from bar to boat on a misty fall evening. Just as the weather deteriorates, one of them suddenly and confusingly goes overboard. Is it an accident? The result of an unwanted advance? His body disappears quickly, silently, into the dark water. The circumstances are murky, but what is clear is that the other two need to notify the authorities. Minutes become hours become days as they hesitate, caught up in their guilt and hope that their friend has somehow made it safely to shore. As valuable time passes, they find themselves deep in a moral morass with huge implications as they struggle to move forward and live with their dark secret.



My thoughts: This is this first book I've read by Meg Little Reilly and I found it be to captivating and intriguing all the way through. I love books like that - ones that hold my interest and keep me guessing as to where it is going to end up. 

This book was a very quick, easy read. It is one that is chock full of secrets - and we learn about the main secret that drives most of this book right off the bat. This is definitely a character-driven novel and we see how the characters have to live with the consequences of their actions. These characters are certainly flawed and watching them struggle with their choices is what makes this book that much more realistic. 

I liked the way the mystery was played out. You think you know what happened, but do you really? Even the characters aren't quite sure. And let's not forget that both Kat and Hunter come from very different backgrounds, so when all is said and done, and they don't report the accident right away, they are left with different perceptions of what happens next. Hunter after all has his family's name to help protect him, while Kat has no one. Perception is everything, is it not?

This book is definitely not what is outwardly appears to be. You might think you have it all figured out, but think again. You might think you have all the characters figured out, but think again. This book plays on your everything instinct and it plays on everything you think you know. It's a fun little book that's not quite as simple as it appears to be.



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Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger


Title: When Life Gives You Lululemons
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Series: The Devil Wears Prada, #3
Published: June 2018, Simon Schuster
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher


Summary:
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.




My thoughts: I'm a big fan of the movie, The Devil Wears Prada - it's totally a guilty pleasure type of movie, the one you put on when there's nothing else on and you just feel like having a do-nothing, laze about on the couch type of afternoon or evening. I love Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep - they were made for those parts and it's just a fun, feel-good movie. I literally had no idea the movie was based on a book until Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns came out - not that I read it, or the first book in this series. But, I was asked to read this latest book and I just couldn't refuse...and I'm so glad I didn't - I really enjoyed this one...so much in fact that I think I will go back and read the first two books!

As much as I love my thrillers and psychological suspense novels, sometimes you just need a palate cleanser - something lighthearted and fun and this was exactly that! It was funny and cheeky and I laughed my way through it and had a ball! 

This story is basically Emily's and it was nice to see a more personable side to her. I liked that we see her grow as a person in this story. I also loved the balance between the three women - these women couldn't be more different from each other and yet, they needed each other more than they knew. They had to learn to depend on each other, trust each other and through all that, really came to care for and understand each other. It wasn't always easy or pretty, but it sure was fun to watch!

This is definitely the type of book to pick up if you are in the mood for something funny, something empowering, or just something in the middle. It's even got a cameo of the famous Miranda Priestly! 

This was my first book by Lauren Weisberger and it was a treat. I know for sure I'll be picking up the earlier books in this series as soon as I can get to them. Have you read them yet? And I definitely see myself watching The Devil Wears Prada soon...it's been a while! 


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