Monday, 25 May 2020

The Wife StalkerThe Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 Stars

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I loved The Last Time I Saw You. While this title was ok I found it lacking and missing something.

Honestly, I felt that this was a repeat of a story I had already read. There were a lot of secrets, twists etc, but there hit a point where it was just too much. I think I actually yelled at one point...come on already, just tell the damn story.

I was disappointed, I mean I couldn't wait to see what happened, but there was just too much. Every cliche you could find was in this book. I love Liv Constantine's work and their writing of this book was still good, but I think the direction of the book just wasn't clear.

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Sunday, 24 May 2020

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

ebook, 316 pages
Expected publication: July 7th 2020 by Simon & Schuster
About the Book:
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home. Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams. Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence. When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal. Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, but even more so getting to know the Adler family. The sweet, honest, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of the family's life made me feel like I was sitting talking to my own family. So many great characters. Although it is set in the early 20th century, it was easy to relate to the characters and what they were going through. Rachel Beanland has a unique way of bringing out all of her characters personalities. You feel that you know them and can predict how they will react to life situations. I love that this book had so many strong beautiful women in this novel.

This was such a wonderful book. Rachel Beanland is a wonderful story teller. I was mesmerized by the characters. I read this book in a single sitting because I couldn't wait to turn the page to find out what is going to happen to the Adler family. The chapters are longer than most other books but it didn't feel that way as I zipped through the pages. If you like historical fiction you must read this book...I couldn't put this book down, and cannot recommend it enough.

Thank you NetGalley, Simon & Schuster and Rachel Beanland for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#FlorenceAdlerSwimsForever #NetGalley

Saturday, 23 May 2020

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

ebook, 323 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2020 by HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco
About the Book:
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved. In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

These women. Look at these women. These women don’t belong here. They don’t belong anywhere.

Wow, this book is not only a literary thriller but it is raw emotional and gritty. I raced through this pulse-pounding thriller faster than I wanted to, I read it in one sitting but I wanted this story to be longer because it was so good and so was full of suspense and mystery. Such a well crafted story.

These Women is never predictable and the nerve wracking tension it produces is enough to jar the most stoic thriller reader. I really enjoyed it and can easily see this novel being on many Year's Best lists for 2020...Including mine.

Thank you NetGalley, HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco and Ivy Pochoda for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#TheseWomen #NetGalley

Friday, 22 May 2020

A Mother's Lie by Sarah Zettel

ebook, 317 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
About the Book:
Beth Fraser finally has her life together. She's built a successful career in the tech sector, has a bright fifteen-year-old daughter, and she's completely erased all evidence of her troubled past. At least that's what she thought. Dana Fraser always wondered why she's the only kid with two backup phones, emergency drills, and a non-negotiable check-in time every single day. When a stranger approaches her on the street claiming to be her grandmother, Dana starts to question what else her mother has been hiding. Soon Beth's worst nightmare is coming true: Dana is in grave danger, and unless Beth is willing to pull one last con job for her parents, she may never see her daughter again.

This is the first book I've read by Sarah Zettel and holy cow, this book started with a bang and never let up. A Mother's Lie is a mystery within a mystery and this intensely suspenseful novel delivered exactly what I’ve come to love from books labeled as thrilling. To call this novel entertaining would be missing the point. It is interesting, absorbing, engaging and compelling. It is a great read with lessons to be learned and provides a meaningful message.

Ms. Zettel excels at characterization, capturing the essence of personality and portraying characters that are unique but also recognizable. The characters are never stagnant. We watch them evolve as the story moves on, and we also learn the hidden motivations driving their choices. One of my favorite aspects was how Zettel expertly captures the magnetic personality of a sociopath, who so easily draws others into the swirling vortex.

The plot is complex and masterful, beginning with a slow burn and gradually building intensity. Don't get too comfortable, because Zettel gives us a couple twists. Was this book over the top? YES! But in the most amazing way. I usually hate that in a book but Ms. Zettel did it campy perfectly. All. The. Stars.

Thank you NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing and Sarah Zettel for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.


Thursday, 21 May 2020

The Third Sister (Ilka Jensen #3) by Sara Blaedel

ebook, 252 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
About the Book:
Ilka Jensen's life is in chaos following the tumultuous events of Her Father's Secret. The funeral home she inherited after her estranged father's death is bankrupt. Her new business partner, Artie, lies unconscious in the hospital after a savage attack by mysterious assailants, and her father's second wife is in prison. Then, just as Ilka learns a shocking revelation about her father, two menacing strangers turn up at the funeral home -- dangerous men who mean to draw her further into a world of secrets, betrayal, and murder. In order to protect herself and those around her, Ilka sets off on a twisting journey to confront the truth about the man who abandoned her as a child. But the long-buried secrets of her father's past are more tangled and perilous than Ilka could ever imagine.

This is the last of the Ilka Jensen series and the books got better as I went along. I think it's because the first two books were cliffhangers but I really enjoyed this one so very much more. In terms of the mystery for this book, I thought it was above average but didn't hit spectacular level. In my opinion the author didn't make it super obvious what had happened until the big reveal although maybe other readers will disagree. I'll admit I had a smirk on my face when my theory started to finally play out but it was quickly erased when I was proven wrong. Overall I really enjoyed this book even though it wasn't perfect. If you are in the mood for a mindless but fairly entertaining read, consider checking this one out.

Thank you NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing and Sara Blaedel for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.


Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Brave Girl, Quiet GirlBrave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew then. I knew I was okay being with her, but . . . more than okay. Almost like I was home with her, in a weird way. I mean, it wasn’t as good as having a real home, because I couldn’t actually live in a thing like I’d found with her, but it still felt something like home, because it was a place where I could bring my whole self.

There are memorable characters and stories and then there are fantastic characters and incredibly moving stories brought to life that allow you to fall deep into a book and forget that they are just that. Stories. This is what happens when you read Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Rich storytelling, fraught with intense struggle, torn between two worlds a young girl who leaves her home, not of her own accord.

I read many of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books, so I shouldn't be surprised that I loved this one so much. A well written story of mistakes, choices, family, love and forgiveness. From the very first page I was pulled in by the characters. Throughout the entire novel, I felt I was standing in the background, observing, listening and sharing the experience. The characters are flawed, many reminding me of those who have also crossed my path. And yet, each one is so very human.

And this is what I love most about Catherine Ryan Hyde's novels. How she captures the human spirit and family dynamics in a brilliant and realistic way. Her writing is beautiful, thought provoking and leaves the reader all the better for having read her story. I loved every word. Catherine Ryan Hyde is absolutely brilliant. This book has actually left me speechless with the depth of it's perfection. So, I will simply suggest that you read it...All. The. Stars.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Her Father's Secret (The Family Secrets series Book 2)Her Father's Secret by Sara Blaedel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

There are many plots intertwined into this novel. Just when you think you have figured out how they are all connected Ms. Blaedel takes you down a different fork in the road. The characters are well developed and intriguing. This is the second book of the series. I suggest readers read, The Undertaker's Daughter before reading this book to fully understand the background. Our main character is trying to sell the family funeral home which is in poor financial shape after her father's death. All kinds of family secrets come out during this story and the reader is left with a cliffhanger at the end. To be continued...

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Monday, 18 May 2020

A Million Little Lies by Bette Lee Crosby

ebook, 285 pages
Expected publication: June 16th 2020 by Bent Pine Publishing
About the Book:
When Suzanna Duff was ten years old, she lost her mama, and that’s when the lies began. At first, they were just harmless little fibs, a way to hide her unbearable loneliness and the truth about a daddy who came home rip-roaring drunk every night. But in time, the lies grew bigger and now, when she is a grown woman with a daughter of her own, they threaten to destroy everything she loves. The irony of this situation is that Suzanna never planned to stay in Georgia, she was simply passing through, looking for a fresh start in New Jersey. Attending that wake with her daughter Annie, was a fluke. An opportunity to enjoy a free meal. It should have entailed nothing more than a solemn nod and a brief expression of sympathy but, Ida Parker, the grieving widow mistook her for her the granddaughter who was carried off as an infant. Too embarrassed to do anything else, Suzanna played along. What harm was there in pretending to be someone else for a few hours? Hours turned into days and days into weeks; strangers became friends, love happened, and before long a year had flown by. Now the past is standing on her doorstep and Suzanna must decide to leave here and disappear as she has done before, or tell the truth and break the hearts of those she loves most.

Loneliness is worse than cancer. Cancer only destroys your body, but loneliness, that eats away at every part of you, even your heart and mind.

I am a new Bette Lee Crosby fan. I recently read her Wyattsville series and immediately fell in love with her writing. Her books contain southern charm, a bit of romance, a sprinkle of mystery and a touch of class. Every one of her books I have read in a day. I instantly connected to Bette Lee Crosby's writing style, her storytelling, her characters. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a fan of books that take place in the south. I’m at a loss for words to convey how much I loved this book, how sad I was to finish it. When you feel as though you’re losing friends, well that says something. An emotional roller coaster of a story, secrets are revealed right to the end. The book is filled with secrets, betrayal, loss, death, forgiveness, redemption, with love shining through. A stunning achievement. This is poignant, happy, yet always amazing.

Thank you NetGalley, Bent Pine Publishing and Bette Lee Crosby for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#AMillionLittleLies #NetGalley

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Because of You I Am by Sandy Hogarth

ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: April 23rd 2020 by Troubador Publishing Ltd. - Matador
About the Book:
When Alice was ten, she shot rabbits with her father. Thirty five years later, she’s after bigger prey. Life hasn’t been kind to Alice. Abandoned by her father at fourteen, she ran away two years later to 60s London, embracing all the darkness it had to offer when hopes of finding her father are lost. But that was the past and at thirty-seven she meets and marries Jake. They have a son, Adam, and life is perfection. But when he is killed in an accident six years later, her entire life comes crashing down. Buried under the weight of grief and guilt, Alice sets out on a path for revenge on the mother who killed her child. Teetering on the brink of sanity, she refuses to acknowledge the truth: what really happened on the way through the park on the day Adam died? The dominoes fall, sending Alice into dark places. Does forgiveness wait for her on the other side or will she never find her way back to the light?

I wanted to run to the door, place my hands around her throat and strangle her, watch her face turn red, then purple, stop her breath.

Oh my gosh! This book. Sandy Hogarth is a poet and has such a way with words. I really wouldn't call this book a thriller and although I was expecting one what I got was so, so much more. What an absolutely gutting (in a good way) book. The impact of people on one another, the way we carry our baggage from place to place adding more with every relationship like the worst possible souvenirs, how we fail to communicate who we are and what we want, how we don’t know those things because we don’t always know ourselves, how we can become redeemed in the love and loving of another person. I’m not sure I’ve felt more seen by a book. It somehow had the emotional resonance of every intimate conversation I’ve ever had and my entire body hummed with the familiarity and anxiety of those moments while reading it. I couldn’t put it down.

Thank you NetGalley, Troubador Publishing Ltd. - Matador and the very talented Sandy Hogarth for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#BecauseofYouIAm #NetGalley

The Undertaker's Daughter (Ilka Jensen, #1)The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At times it was exciting but most of the story was either predictable or confusing. The writing itself was pretty good, especially as it was translated. This book was really different, I've never read one quite like it. Not a bad read but just really different and the ending is a cliffhanger...Thank goodness I have the other two books in the series! To be continued…

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: February 29th, 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
About the Book:
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise--she's just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems. Just one more night. Then I'll end it. Alison drinks too much. She's neglecting her family. And she's having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. Alison's client doesn't deny that she stabbed her husband - she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. I'm watching you. I know what you're doing. But someone knows Alison's secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she's done, and who won't stop until she's lost everything.

I really really tried to love this book. The writing was good and it was a page turner for sure. BUT the way the protagonist kept going back and forth about what she was going to do about her husband and the guy she is having the affair drove me nuts. Pick a damn guy...make a decision and stick with it. She came off as needy and weak and drank like a fish.

The sub-plot with the murderess was a bit better and I liked the court room and law office dramatics. But I figured out all three of the reveals before the first hundred pages. Harriet Tyce can write, that is not in question, I just didn't like the back and forth and indecisions of the drunken lawyer, nothing was surprising and there was a lot going on.

Thank you NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing and Harriet Tyce for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#BloodOrange #NetGalley

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

This Is How I LiedThis Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

Oh how I love Heather Gudenkauf books. I don't care what genre she writes as long as she keeps putting out great books. This was a great book! A cold case murder, a small town, plenty of suspects and a surprising culprit! The reveal is done early but my gosh the book gets even better after that!

Honestly loved this book and didn’t see the end coming. I love a good psychological thriller but can usually piece out the ending...not this time. I won’t say all the twists were a surprise, I figured out some things earlier on but the actual ending what not what I expected. Highly recommend!

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Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

ebook, 293 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020 by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books
About the Book:
It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city—and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew. As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it—you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours—and shots of tequila—the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse—Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head. Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who he seemed to be?

I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.

I have read some really bad reviews about this book and was very worried starting it, I am in the minority because I enjoyed it a lot! This is Ms. Giffin’s best book yet, in my opinion, a beautifully crafted story of love, loss and second chances. This book is an incredibly emotional read, taking you on a journey through life, love and the grief which descends when having to say goodbye to someone close. If that sounds depressing, let me assure you it is so much more than a tear jerker as it’s both a celebration of love and the ups and downs we experience through a life shared.

We may not get do-overs in life, but we can always have fresh starts and new beginnings.

You'll read about the happy, the sad and the hurtful parts of relationships. As you continue, you'll see the grief evolve and play out. This is a very touching and skillfully written book. This is a great read and a reminder to say the things that need to be said while you can and enjoy life now because the future is promised to no one.

Thank you NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine Books and Emily Giffin for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#TheLiesThatBind #NetGalley