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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

REVIEW: The Social Affair by Britney King @britneyking_

The Social Affair
by Britney King


Beyond thrilled to have received an early copy of this psychological thriller by one of the kindest people I know.. and someone I'm happy to call a friend.  See what I thought of this 5 Star read below! And stay tuned for a post tomorrow, RELEASE DAY, that includes a giveaway - you're going to want to try for a chance to win this book - TRUST ME!

Thank you so much to Britney for this copy! 🖤


Publisher:  Self Published
Publishing: January 18, 2018
Pages: 289
Genres:  Psychological Thriller
Paperback
Standalone

Blurb:

A timeless, perfect couple waltzes into the small coffee shop where Izzy Lewis works. Instantly enamored, she does what she always does in situations like these: she searches them out on social media.

Just like that—with the tap of a screen— she’s given a front row seat to the Dunns’ picturesque life. This time, she’s certain she’s found what she’s been searching for. This time, she'll go to whatever lengths it takes to ensure she gets it right—even if this means doing the unthinkable.

Intense and original, The Social Affair is a disturbing psychological thriller that explores what can happen when privacy is traded for convenience.


My Review:



Part Cult.  Part Stalker. Utterly addicting.

It's always a little nerve wracking when someone you consider your friend gives you the honor of reading an early release copy of her book.  However, I've read her before so I was 99.9% sure I was going to love this new standalone novel and guess what?  I DO!

Izzy leads a worker's life.  She barely makes rent, hardly has an appetite and still mourning the death of Jake, she makes bad decisions and just trudges through day to day.  That is, until Josie and Grant Dunn walk into the coffee shop she works at.  This gorgeous couple is everything she dreams of.  As she's prone to do, she scours Instalook and maxes out her credit cards buying things those with a large social media presence promote.  As she starts stalking Josie, she decides she needs to immerse her life into Josie's... and nothing is going to stop her.

Josie and Grant appear to be the perfect couple  As long as she adhere's to the rules, her life runs smoothly.  Beautiful house, clothes, jewelry and a successful surgeon of a husband.  Add two kids and what could possibly be wrong with this picture?  A LOT. The question is, is there a way out of it?

I love anything that's even remotely cultish and bringing in New Hope church and the Dunns' involvement within this culture was creepy and intriguing to learn about.  What I really liked was King's incorporation of modern day stalking.  In the real world, we can pretty much look into the lives of anyone with any social media presence - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.. and in this book, Instalook.  The representation of Josie constantly posting, hashtagging and continually checking her phone for how many likes she received, how to engage her followers, etc. was extremely realistic.  It also goes to show, again, how what you see on the internet isn't always a true representation of what happens behind closed doors.  After all, we all want people to think we are happy, right?  Just how much of your self esteem comes from your online presence?

Then there's the ending - I truly did NOT see that coming and that is always such a nice surprise.  EEK - it's Britney, bitch!  She got me! At under 300 pages, this book really packs a punch.  Throughout my read I had some questions... but then they all got answered and I am completely satisfied with this.  Having read prior work, I'm not surprised in the slightest.  And here's a fun fact - her books all interconnected in one way or another.  See if you can figure out how. 😉

Put this on your TBR and thank me later. 


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

REVIEW: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke @grandcentralpub @CJ_Cooke_Author #CJSReads2018 #CJSReads

I Know My Name
by C.J. Cooke


Thank you SO much to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for these copies in return for our honest opinions.  Happy Publishing Day!!!


Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Publishing: January 16, 2018
Genres:  Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mental Health
Kindle
Standalone

Goodreads Synopsis:

A woman with no name. A wild, abandoned island. A family desperate for answers. A debut thriller like no other.I KNOW MY NAME

On a small Greek island, a woman comes ashore with no memory of who she is, where she's from, or how she came to be shipwrecked there. Worse, she has no way of leaving. As she's nursed back to health by the island's only inhabitants, four friends on an annual retreat, she detects tensions between the group that suggest not all is quite as it seems. Her new acquaintances each appear to be hiding something--something that may relate to the mystery of her identity.

Meanwhile, in a pretty suburb on the outskirts of London, Eloise, the mother of a newborn and a toddler, vanishes into thin air. Her husband, Lochlan, is desperate to find her--but as the police look into the disappearance, it becomes clear that Lochlan and Eloise's marriage was not the perfect union it appeared.

As Lochlan races to discover his wife's whereabouts, Eloise enacts an investigation of her own. What both discover will place lives at risk and upend everything they thought they knew about their marriage, their past, and what lies in store for the future.

My Review:

Lochland receives a call from a neighbor who finds his children home alone with their mother nowhere to be found.  He races home and begins his quest to try and figure out where his wife went.  The baby monitors seem to be off for some reason, no one has seen her and he is at a complete loss as to who may have taken her - after all, she had no reason to leave.

A woman wakes up on a remote island.  Rescued by writers on a retreat on an island that houses no on else, she is left without her memory and no way to get in touch with anyone to know if she's missed by anyone.  Why can't she remember anything and why are these people somewhat familiar to her when she's never met them before?

This book drew me in from the beginning.  We quickly realize that Lochland's wife is the rescued woman on the island.  The question we want answered is how did she end up there and why?  We get alternating points of view between Lochland and this woman.  Occasionally we see through a couple other peoples POVs and a few glimpses into her past.  This is where the book lost me a little bit.  It wasn't confusing as much as just all over the place.  I quickly realized where the book was going so while I can see the ending being a huge twist and surprise for most readers, it wasn't for me.  Clearly the author knows how to write.  I understood everything coming once I realized where the book was heading so it made more sense to me when I got there.  

For a debut novel, I'm very impressed and will definitely look for more from this author.  Personally, I think I'll be in the minority and feel most readers will absolutely LOVE this book and be surprised by this psychological twist at the end.

★★★

Sam's Review:

I am such a sucker for a mystery/thriller with a missing wife.  Gone Girl started the trend and, now, I cannot help but add a book with that similar thread to my TBR pile.  I Know My Name, the debut novel by CJ Cooke, had just that element.

Lochlan’s wife, Eloise, is missing.  She disappeared from their home leaving her phone, her wallet and her children behind.  Meanwhile, a woman washes up on a Greek island without any knowledge of who she is or how she got there.   Told in a back and forth narration, these two tales weave together making quite the digestible read. In fact, I sat down to read a few pages and was finished within a few hours.

Cooke’s tale is not only beautifully written but incredibly entertaining.  It becomes quite clear within the first few chapters that the missing woman and the woman on the island are one in the same but Cooke still had me on the edge of my seat wondering how she got there and how Lochlan would discover her whereabouts.   

My only complaint in the novel came from sections of narration.  There were a few moments where I found the style to be incredibly confusing. Told mostly through the eyes of the woman on the island and Lochlan, as her desperately searches for his wife, there ended up being some random chapters narrated from Eloise's grandmother’s point of view and also a few chapters from the past which felt a little bit random.  These had me flipping back and forth trying to re-orient myself in the text. 

The final twist nearing the end I did find interesting and quite fitting for a novel of psychological suspense. Overall, I felt like it was a solid crime read that readers who are looking for a softer bit of crime fiction will enjoy. 

3/5 stars. 

Jessica's Review:

A missing wife in London, a mystery woman found on a remote Greek island, and secrets between spouses. I KNOW MY NAME by CJ Cooke is a solid thriller debut! With similar elements that we all know and love in the thriller genre with a fitting end for a psychological suspense novel. 


When Eloise goes missing, Lochland's world is turned upside down. He receives a call from his neighbor that his children (toddler and newborn) are home alone with their mother nowhere to be found. Her phone and wallet are left behind - where is Eloise? Meanwhile, a woman washes up on shore of a remote Greek island. She has no memory of who she is or how she ended up there. 

This book instantly pulls you in. You quickly learn that Eloise is the mystery woman on the island - so no spoiler there! What happened to Eloise and how did she end up in Greece? The book bounces between different perspectives - mainly between Lochland and the woman on the island. We had a couple random chapters from other perspectives that helped tell a little bit about the woman's past. I do agree with my buddy readers, Chandra and Sam, this had me a little confused. The fluidity was broken up here, but otherwise this was a solid debut. 

The ending had a great twist and I think it was incredibly fitting for the psychological thriller genre! I will definitely be looking for more from Cooke in the future. She can tell a story and I really enjoyed the writing in this one. If you want a good psychological thriller to get sucked into, then you'll have to pick up I KNOW MY NAME!

I give this 3/5 stars!


SPOTLIGHT: Earthbound by Gwendoline Courreges

Earthbound
by Gwendoline Courreges

Hello readers!! Take a look at this unique story from Gwendoline Courreges!  Below is a blurb, summary, about the author and a short excerpt from the book.  Happy reading!


Blurb:

Following the philosophical shredding of modern society into smithereens, Earth's sole survivor is free to narrate the jellyfish fueled post-apocalypse, by unabashedly celebrating nature and the perennial philosophy in this metaphysical fable of ultimate female redemption.

Summary:

In the near future, an increasingly flooded Earth has become the stage for one final war: Man vs. Jellyfish.  Part one has our first character feeling philosophical.  While pondering upon the red sky and the advancing sea, he sets out to list the four downfalls of humanity, working himself into a fury of disgust that leads to his suicide.  Fast forwarding to the multicolored and peaceful post-apocalypse of the second part, we meet our protagonist, a mysterious woman living as a hermit on the 6th floor of a Hausmannian building in a submerged Paris, France.  Without any flora or fauna in sight, our heroine connects to nature through alchemy, but her yearning for green Earthly growth becomes increasingly potent.  Throughout her personal musings, she delivers an account of the last seven days of human self-awareness.  She will discover a special tree, meet a cat that will become her guru, harness the power of her dreams, unleash her mind and survive a tsunami, discovering a powerful secret.  Her enlightenment leads to the destruction of self-consciousness as she becomes one with the planet, inversely echoing Eve's doom and the fall from Eden.


About the Author:

Gwendoline Courreges is a Native born Parisian currently residing in Austin, Texas, teaching French privately and pursuing her passion:  writing.  She has written two short novels, a satire which is soon to be produced into a film, as well as countless short stories and articles published in various local magazines and online.  Graduate student from Florida State University, she's taught English in Thailand and Cambodia.  Her writing style is as eclectic as her background.

Excerpt:

Sitting on the beach, I was more worried about the temperature of the water than the changes in the sky, which were nonetheless rather notable. A few summers ago there was still some blue and streaks of white, and the water, though nothing like the turquoise you would see in the heavily chlorinated pools of “luxury” hotels, would still allow you to guess its original color: blue too. Now the dull greenish-brown waves, far from lulling onlookers, came in strong, hot surges to beat the new shore closer than ever before, a deep ominous red glow above us all. A black cloud of pollution coming from either some distant coastline or from the sea itself, burning with spilt oil, prevented the sun from illuminating us as usual. The golden light of the creeping Mediterranean now sustained a scarlet blaze that would have reminded us more of hell than summer, if we hadn’t already gotten used to it.



Monday, January 15, 2018

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye @rararesources @SarahMarieGraye


Honored to be launching the blog tour for The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye!
Continue below for info about the book, my review and a GIVEAWAY!!



Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye's heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he's taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything - including why Jack's death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?


About the Author:


Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie's childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing... until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It's a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor's scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel - about family, friendships and mental health.
INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Review:


Faye is a bit obsessed with her ex-boyfriend Jack, who seems to have left her behind when he left for university.  In her quest to find him, she ends up finding that he's dead... and has taken his own life.  This news ends up affecting Faye and her friends... more than they had anticipated.

From various perspectives, this could be a little confusing at first, especially as they all seem to have the same "voice"... but as you continue to read, you start to see their individuality and how their friendship defines them in one way and separates them in another.  The author does not hold back and has gathered from her own experience with depression, thrown this right into her work.  This is not a happy read but one told that seems to have been told well.  

I didn't quite understand the interspersing of tea times and teas in between some chapters.  For me, it seemed to stem the flow a bit from the book.  By the end, I think I understand why they were included but it didn't quite work for me.  

What did work for me was the intense way the author brought about the decisions each friend made after finding out about Jack's suicide.  I know that when I was in college, I found out about a friend's attempt at suicide and it certainly had me questioning my own mortality and still enters my mind whenever I start to go to a dark place... so these types of things definitely do affect the people around you.. whether you're aware of it or not.  I think this is an important subject to write about and love that the author does not shy away from such a vital subject.  


Sunday, January 14, 2018

REVIEW: Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake @stmartinspress @authorrdrake

Just Between Us
by Rebecca Drake

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for this book in return for my honest opinion. 
Continue below for the synopsis, my review, about the author and praise for this outstanding book!


Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Publishing: January 9, 2018
Pages: 384
Genres:  Domestic Thriller, Fiction, Crime
Paperback
Standalone

Goodreads Synopsis

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

My Review


Here is a story of four women and their friendship.  Sarah and Julie, who are the oldest friends that eventually befriend newcomers, Alison and Heather.  Alison is a bit passive aggressive and needy.  Julie is a realtor who just wants everything to be sunshine and rainbows.  Sarah is a former lawyer who gave up her career to be a stay at home mom and is the bluntest of the group.  Then there's Heather, the newest member, a former model married to a successful surgeon and has started showing up to their get-togethers with bruises.... and one night a fateful call comes from Heather and she needs their help.  Just how far would you go to protect your friend?  

"The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told."

Everyone has secrets.  Everybody's marriage is different and you can never truly know everything about your spouse, your kid or your friends.  Sometimes those secrets come back to bite you in the ass.  This is a tale of friendship, deceit, manipulation and loyalty.  When one of your friends is getting hurt, what would you do to try and stop it?  What if she won't leave?  How far can you help someone who won't help themselves?? It's a fine line to walk isn't it?

What I liked about this book was the linear timeline - while we see through each of the four women's perspectives, we don't get the same scene regurgitated through different sets of eyes.  Instead, the timeline continues to move forward with each perspective.  I especially liked that the top of each page indicated whose perspective it was as you were reading.  With the close friendships of the women and the dynamics each of them had with each other, this book gave me lots of Big Little Lies feels.  

I did feel the book was a bit predictable but it didn't take away from me wanting to see how exactly it all played out.  There were definitely some nuances that were included that I wasn't expecting!  I felt like this was more a domestic drama/thriller than a psychological one.  If you're looking for a lighter, dramatic thriller this is a book for you.  Those who like Lisa Scottoline and Liane Moriaty will love this story as well.  

About the Author



REBECCA DRAKE is the author of the novels Don’t Be AfraidThe Next KillingThe Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.


Praise for JUST BETWEEN US

"A twisty, domestic thriller [...] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed." — Publisher's Weekly

"Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit [...] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers." —Booklist

"Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won't be able to put it down." — J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a stunner - a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?" — Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don't miss it!" — David Bell, author of Bring Her Home


Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW: Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant @mulhollandbooks @sabinedurrant

Lie with Me
by Sabine Durrant


Publisher:  Mulholland Books
Publishing: January 11, 2018
Pages: 305
Genres:  Mystery, Suspense, Fiction, Crime
Kindle Edition
Standalone

Goodreads Synopsis:

It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of...
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you're trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realize that, however painful the truth might be, it's the lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.
My Review:
We've all been there, right?  One small lie .. a pebble if you will, that rolls down and collects larger lies, eventually turning into a boulder that eventually runs you over.  
Poor Paul - runs into someone from his past, tells a small lie.... then gets invited to dinner.  And there it all begins.  He's a deplorable character - lies all the time, lives off of people, womanizes and doesn't care who he hurts.  A selfish bastard if you will.  Then he meets Alice and of course, in true Paul manner, uses her at first..  after all, he's going to need a new place to live soon.  But then he starts feeling this weird thing in his chest... could he actually be caring about this woman?
I'm so torn with this book!  The character build of Paul is outstanding.  The author really gets you to dislike him as a person... and yet somehow you end up feeling for him.  As a matter of fact, there's not one character in this book that you want to like.  The build up is slow, the pacing is moderate and the setting is mainly in Greece.  I admit, I struggled a little bit with the first half of this book.... I was tired of being in Paul's head and learning about how selfish and manipulative he could be.  Then we get into the last parts and all of the sudden I'm wracking my brain... looking for the clues that were delightfully hidden throughout that led to the finale.  Brilliantly done and I'm glad I didn't give up on the book.
Recommended for those who like that slow build leading to a somewhat unexpected ending rather than the action packed scenes.  This is one you should pay attention to because the ending makes perfect sense with everything leading up to it.  

Thank you to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for this copy in return for my honest opinion!