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Thursday, May 23, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: One More Lie by Amy Lloyd @hanover_square @amylloydwrites @jessmapreviews

One More Lie 
by Amy Lloyd


Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publish Date: May 28, 2019
Paperback
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

A thrilling new novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Innocent Wife 

Charlotte wants to start fresh. She wants to forget her past, forget prison and, most of all, forget Sean. But old habits die hard. Despite the ankle monitor she must wear as part of her parole agreement and frequent visits to her therapist, she soon finds herself sliding back toward the type of behavior that sent her to prison in the first place. The further down that path she goes, however, the closer she gets to the crime that put her in prison all those years ago. And that's the one memory she can't face. Until, one day, Sean tracks her down.

Amy Lloyd won theDaily Mail First Novel competition for her debut, The Innocent Wife. Now she returns with a chilling portrait of a woman trying to be good, even when she isn't sure she wants to be.


My Review:



With the intro before the main plot began, I was expecting something more regarding the new identity, cosmetic surgery party but this was never addressed throughout the read, which was a bit of a let down. However, I quickly managed to forget about this once I became engaged in Charlotte's story. 

The POV goes back and forth from past to present and also through Sean's eyes at various moments.  Charlotte's main line has her a bit of an unreliable narrator as she cannot remember the past to reconcile the present.  It's a lonely existence and the only person she's close to is acting strangely and not there as she once was. What gives? How can she continue and is this really better than prison?

There were a couple things I felt were left a bit hanging, but overall I thoroughly was engaged and needing to know where this was going to head.  At a moderate page and with short chapters, this was easy to fly through and I recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of somber feel to a psychological suspense story.  

★★★★


Jessica's Review:




A snowy and rainy day in May (yes, you read that correctly, SNOW) was the perfect setting for a fast read through ONE MORE LIE. I started and finished this one in about 4 hours because I couldn’t put it down. This thriller/suspense is through the eyes of newly paroled Charlotte. She has a new name, a new history, and a new life she is trying to live. As long as Sean doesn’t find her, she should be able to carry on with her new persona.
We go back and forth between present day and to Charlotte’s past. Growing up wasn’t easy for her and she found her escape in her friendship with Sean. One night changed everything for them and led her to her new anonymous life after prison. We get alternating chapters between “Here: Now” and “Her: Then”. We also get some mixed in through Sean’s perspective in the present.
I don’t want to give away too much and risk spoiling anything, but this one was a fast read and was a great glimpse into the effects of strained and complicated relationships can have on children. Nothing seems to go right for Charlotte and Sean has also spiraled after his stint in prison – what really happened that night when they were kids?
Overall, I loved the writing and the pacing. The short chapters kept the pace up and held my attention. I liked the alternating chapters between past and present because it gradually revealed to us what Charlotte has been dealing with. This was my introduction to Amy Lloyd and it won’t be my last time picking up her books! If you want a quick and engaging read, then this needs to be on your TBR.
4 stars

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda @KairaRouda @harlequinbooks @jessmapreviews

The Favorite Daughter 
by Kaira Rouda 


Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: May 21, 2019
Paperback
384 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena. The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie. Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It's a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane's oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she's barely even left the house. Now that's all about to change.It's time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane's husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it's clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days--and nights--at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl--dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they've revealed?The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together...

My Review:


"Anger is so bad for your health: Your own and your target's."

First Paul from Best Day Ever and now Jane - unreliable, narcissistic protagonists that are in serious need of some mental help. What I like about Rouda's writing is you stay consistently in these sociopaths heads so you get the full on force of their mental state and their thought process as they transverse life in their own closed in bubble.

Jane is quite the woman, wife, mother and boy does she not like it when things don't go her way.  But is it her or the people around her? Her eldest daughter's death has taken a toll on her family.  Her only daughter left and even her husband of 20 years are distant.  And now there are hints that her daughter's death may not have been the tragic accident they thought.

I knew exactly where this book was going to go but I wanted to see exactly how it got there.  Jane is quite a character and I certainly would not want to be on her bad side. Ever. Personally, I think she's freakin' genius.  True, she's made some mistakes, but I couldn't help but have half of my  mouth go up in a smile when seeing just how she goes about punishing those who dare to try and take anything away from her.  Bitch be crazy and I am here for every last minute of it.

I wonder what new, crazy character Rouda will bring to us in her next book. And keep in mind, that while things are pretty predictable in this read, it is the journey that makes it so much fun.  It was perfect for the mood I was in.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


The newest from Kaira Rouda, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER is about a grieving mother a year after the death of her eldest daughter, Mary. As someone with a sibling, you always like to think your parents don't play favorites, but that's not always the case. Jane and David have two daughters, Mary and Betsy. Mary was the one that excelled at everything she did, while Betsy falls somewhere in the middle. One fateful day only Cash, their dog, came home from a hike with Mary. Days later they find out she fell from a cliff into the ocean - deemed an unfortunate accident.

It's coming up on the anniversary of the accident and David is wanting to have a celebration of life ceremony for the community. Jane sees this as her "coming out" party of sorts. Her time to show everyone that isn't hiding in her home, living on pills, and still deep in the grieving process. She wants to be the perfect family once again. A wrench is thrown into her plan when she finds out her husband's infidelity and how blatantly he's flaunting it. How had she missed this before? Well, he'll pay for that, she guarantees it. Then her remaining daughter, Betsy, is keeping a secret about what really happened the day Mary fell to her death. 

I enjoyed how Jane was acting as the narrator and how it felt like she was telling us a story. There were times where she made comments like you would when you were having a conversation with someone. We stay solely in her perspective for the entirety of the book, and we get to see how her mental state progresses through the book. Is she losing grip of reality? Is she finally out her pill-induced haze and seeing clearly for the first time? I had times where I liked her and then were I hated her. The definition of a crazy helicopter mom but you felt for her considering what she was still dealing with. 

I really enjoyed the little twists that popped up throughout the book and I had some guesses on the ending but Rouda threw in a red herring of sorts to throw the reader off. Plenty of drama, strained relationships, doubting characters, and some suspense kept me flipping through this one in two sittings! If you're a fan of Rouda, then this will be a no-brainer. I would highly recommend this one and you should add it to your summer TBR.

4 Stars.

REVIEW: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen @tlcbooktours @luauthors #marybethmayhewwhalen

Only Ever Her 
by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
Paperback
287 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.


Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts? Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?

While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.

My Review:


My first read by Whalen and I wouldn't quite categorize this in the thriller category - but more as a contemporary mystery.  This is a very character driven story.  We get several different POVs that was a lot to take in at first.  Once I got myself under control, I definitely became quite involved with the story. This book does move a bit at a slow to moderate pace.  Normally this would cause my attention to wane, but in this case I was pretty well into needing to know what was going on. Where did Annie go?

My favorite character was Clary and her doves.  There's a lot of symbolism I got from her chapters and that final scene really did get to my heart. Ba-dum-sigh.  Honestly, it was compelling to read all the narrators voices.  This really gave a full look at how small towns work.  I always find this fascinating since while my Dad is from a small town and it's strange to visit there at times, I've always grown up and lived in large cities.  I don't know if it's better to have someone always know everyone's business or to have more anonymity. 

Honestly, the mystery itself isn't what makes this book. If I based it solely on this part, I probably would have ranked this a little bit lower as I felt this was more background.  It's the characters and their interactions and what they bring to the story and the mystery that makes this book worth reading.  If you love character driven books, then this will definitely be a story for you.  Understand that it does start a bit slow but picks up in the second half.

★★★★

Monday, May 20, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup @harperbooks @scaredstr8reads @jessmapreviews

The Chestnut Man 
by Soren Sveistrup

Buddy read this one with Jessica and Dennis and we all different reviews for this upcoming anticipated read.  Continue below and see what we though.


Publisher: Harper Books
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Hardcover
528 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Nordic Noir


The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show The Killing.

If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

My Review:


Well this was a bit of a heavy read, in more ways than one.  I do love a good story that has some gore and "hard to read" spots - but they're not really that hard to read for me.  The crazier and more twisted, the better in my opinion.  Sveistrup certainly gives us some visually disturbing scenes.

The beginning opens with quite the bang and I was instantly hooked.  But then, if I'm being completely honest, my attention quickly waned.  I found myself putting it down and reading something else at times.  But in about 200 pages, it started to pick up.  The short chapters certainly help to keep the pages turning once you get to this point.  At a 500+ page book, it's still fairly early on so doesn't take too much away.

This book is heavy on the procedural aspect and characterization.  I think I wanted just a little more from The Chestnut Man villain as a whole.  More twisty, gory, look through your fingers moments please! However, the writing is well done and I did not see the reveal coming.  As long as it took me to get into this read, the ending felt a little rushed.  I don't know if it needed all 500+ pages to get across the same story but that's just my preference.

Would I read more by this author? Absolutely.  Would I recommend this read? Also absolutely. Especially to those who really love the twisted mixed in with some heavy procedural action.

3.5 stars.

Jessica's Review:


I'll admit, the cover had me right away! Something creepy and eerie about it and then I read the synopsis and I couldn't wait to start. This one I did as a buddy read with Chandra (Where the Reader Grows) and Dennis (Scared Straight Reads). This one is just at 500 pages, and a mammoth in comparison to most crime fiction novels these days. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the pacing of this book and how quickly I went through this.

This takes place over the course of an investigation of some gruesome murders. With Detectives Thulin and Hess we are trying to track down the serial killer that has been dubbed The Chestnut Man, because of the Chestnut dolls that are left at the crime scenes. When evidence is found at the crime scenes that shouldn't be there, the detectives can't rule out a connection to a currently closed case. Are these connected to a disappearance almost a year earlier? 

This one is heavier in the procedural area of crime fiction. One thing that most readers anticipate with the Nordic Noir thriller genre. The chapters are short and we go between stories with the different characters. How are they all connected? Will they be able to stop the Chestnut Man before he kills again? I think Sveistrup did a great job weaving these characters together and tying in the first chapter perfectly (the whole story is present day, while chapter one is a flashback to 1989). I did not see that ending coming, at all. I thought I had it figured out, but the author threw that curve ball!

Overall, if you like the more procedural crime fiction novels, then this will be perfect for your fall TBR. If you're wanting a quicker serial killer thriller, then this might fall short for you. I enjoyed this one and can't wait to see what people will say about it. 

4 stars

Dennis's Review:


Although I did not really enjoy Søren Sveistrup's upcoming crime fiction novel, The Chestnut Man , I will give accolades to the author's writing. This review will not speak towards Sveistrup's talent or craft, but the story itself. I don't like giving negative reviews, so this one will be shorter than usual, and will just touch on the areas I was most frustrated with, rather than nitpick every little thing about the story. I did not know that the author is the creator of the television series The Killing, but it makes sense that this debut novel would follow a similar format. The books reads as a slow burn mystery that I could see working out better for a television series. 

Copenhagen detectives are dealing with a major crisis—there's someone going around the city murdering innocent people in brutal, graphic killings. Detectives cannot find a motive to these attacks, nor can they find any similarities between them. That is, until they notice little dolls nearby the victims's bodies that appear to be intentional. They are two chestnuts formed together to resemble a body. These chestnut dolls are the only similarities between the victims, but police still have no rationale on finding this serial killer. They must think outside the box and dive deeper into the world of crime to unmask this criminal.

The Chestnut Man starts off fast-paced and very intense. After reading the prologue, and some of the initial chapters of the book, I was ready to compare this book as a possible Lars Kepler type of Nordic Noir, but as I kept reading, it just got to the point of "meh" for me. As I kept reading, I was hoping for something to happen, but it just kept going at the same glacially slow pace. I was bored and ready to give up. Sadly, I was able to figure out the mystery behind this story relatively early on, and when I wasn't proven wrong, it was very disappointing. The characters in The Chestnut Man are very one dimensional, and I really didn't have a strong opinion about any of them. I didn't love, hate, or care about any of them, which made for a lackluster read for me. I believe that Søren Sveistrup will have a great future as a writer, but The Chestnut Man just wasn't for me.

2 stars

Saturday, May 18, 2019

REVIEW: Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak @netgalley @littlebrown @annapitoniak

Necessary People 
by Anna Pitoniak


Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: May 21, 2019
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Thriller

One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. Only one of them can win.
Stella Bradley is beautiful, rich, and very good at getting herself into trouble. Violet Trapp is smart, self-aware, and laser-focused on escaping her humble background--especially after Stella gives her a glimpse into a world of glamour and wealth. They are best friends, and from the moment they meet in college, they know their roles: Stella in the spotlight, and Violet behind the scenes.

After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she's finally free from Stella's shadow. Until Stella decides to use her connections, beauty and charisma to land a job at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce-and taking all the credit for it.

But Violet isn't giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, they each reveal just how far they'll go to get what they want--even if it means destroying the other person along the way.

Set against the fast-paced backdrop of TV news, Necessary People is a propulsive work of psychological suspense about ambition and privilege, about the thin line between friendship and rivalry, about the people we need in our lives--and the people we don't. 

My Review:


Oh good laws almighty, these girls.... Why is it so difficult to get out of toxic relationships? Here we have a story that we have seen before. Stella, the rich, entitled girl who is used to getting everything she wants. Money is no object and neither of people Violet, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who lives in Stella's shadow. Low self esteem but a drive underneath.

The thing with girls like these is that it's SO hard to find any sympathy for either girl. Stella who shits on everyone and uses and abuses people to get her way. Violet, being one of those people allowing Stella (among others) to treat her this way. Yet... they also provide for the other in their own way. Stella thrives on the attention that Violet gives her - the only person who sees Stella's true colors and stays loyal. Violet appreciates the opportunities Stella gives her in regards to a place to live "cheaply" and somewhat a (nicer) family that she ever really had.

What it comes down to, is how much is too much? When do either of them reach their breaking point? Is one of them better or worse than the other? It's honestly really hard to say. I've seen this story before but the way the author attacks it made for a great read. This one truly sneaks up on you. While I saw certain instances coming, that added moment or two really elevated this thriller in my eyes.

Watch the evolution of their sordid and toxic friendship and especially pay attention to Violet. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and the advantages in your back pocket. 

★★★★★

Thursday, May 16, 2019

REVIEW: The Art of Happy Moving by Ali Wenzke @wmmorrowbooks @aliwenzke

The Art of Happy Moving 
by Ali Wenzke


Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
Paperback
262 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Nonfiction

A comprehensive, upbeat guide to help you survive the moving process from start to finish, filled with fresh strategies and checklists for timing and supplies, choosing which items to toss and which to keep, determining the best place to live, saying farewell and looking forward to hello.
Moving is a major life change—time consuming, expensive, often overwhelming, and sometimes scary. But it doesn’t have to be! Instead of looking it as a burdensome chore, consider it a new adventure.

Ali Wenzke and her husband moved ten times in eleven years, living in seven states across the U.S. She created her popular blog, The Art of Happy Moving, to help others build a happier life before, during, and after a move. Infused with her infectious optimistic spirit, The Art of Happy Moving builds on her blog, offering step-by-step guidance, much-needed comfort, practical information, and welcome advice on every step of the process, including:
How to stage your home for prospective buyers How to choose your next neighborhood How to discard your belongings and organize your packing How to say goodbye to your friends How to make the transition easier for your kids How to decorate your new home How to build a new community And so much more.
Ali shares invaluable personal anecdotes from her many moves, and packs each chapter with a wealth of information and ingenious tips (Did you know that if you have an extra-large welcome mat at the entrance of your home, it’s more likely to sell?). Ali also includes checklists for packing and staging, and agendas for the big moving day.
Whether you’re a relocating professional, newly married, a family with kids and pets, or a retiree looking to downsize, The Art of Happy Moving will help you discover ways to help make your transition an easier one—and be even happier than you were before.
My Review:



"The average American moves 11.7 times in a lifetime..."  As a military brat, I've moved a lot more than this and sometimes several times in a single year. And Ali is right, every time you move can be an opportunity to start all over again... and thank goodness for that.  I remember one time as a kid that I didn't even care if I made friends since I knew I'd just be moving again soon. On top of all of this, except for moving from apartment to apartment at an obnoxious rate within the same city for years, moving to NYC was the first (and only) move I've done on my own.  I did not make a Pros and Cons list, I didn't research the city properly.  I just knew I wanted to be in a bustling city that was extremely diverse, so once I secured a job, I was OUT.  I truly wish I had a book like this or advice from Ali before I had made any moves.  **disclaimer - I have absolutely no regrets moving here but it would've probably been better to have done it more responsibly. 😉

I'm not sure about the starting to declutter with your books *ahem* haha, but the advice Ali gives is fantastic and the best part is that this book is actually fun to read.  Most self-help or informational books are a bit of a bore for me.  I will absolutely be utilizing this in the future because I know I still have many moves ahead of me.  There are plenty of checklists that help.  Ali's experiences with moving a ton herself definitely shows throughout this book.  Honestly, if you're moving and need some direction on how to keep yourself organized, I highly recommend this book.  If you move a lot and think you have it all down... well, I suggest you maybe take a look at this anyways as you may find some tidbits you didn't know before. Also, there's a great blueberry muffin recipe in here I'm definitely going to try!

★★★★★

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Perfect Lie by Lisa Renee Jones @lisareneejones




Secrets. Lies. A man. There's always a man. And there's always a truth to be told. 

I'm Hailey Anne Monroe. I’m twenty-eight years old. An artist, who found her muse on the canvas because I wasn’t allowed to have friends or even keep a journal. And yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m that Hailey Anne Monroe, daughter to Thomas Frank Monroe, the man who was a half-percentage point from becoming President of the United States. If you were able to ask him, he’d probably tell you that I was the half point. But you can’t ask him, and he can’t tell you. He’s dead. They’re all dead and now I can speak.

Kobo → http://bit.ly/2NCgK18

My Review:


I wasn't sure what to expect walking into this thriller but whichever way, I somehow felt myself surprised with this read.  At first I wasn't sure if it was going to be my cup of tea as it starts with an almost journal-ish like start where we are in Hailey's mind as she starts to tell us her story. It's when we get into this story that things pick up and hooks me.

She's an unreliable narrator who keeps losing pockets of time that seems to correspond to drinking a drink or two only so of course the only logical explanation is that she's being drugged.  But during these black outs, terrible things seem to occur.  Did I mention her father is running for president and blames her for her mother's death? Yep, this girl has a LOT of pressure on her! When yet another occurrence happens, she's hell bent on figuring out what the hell is going on.  Or is she really the one to blame?

I really had no idea where this was going to go.  This would have been a five star read for me except for a couple of things.  I did a quick google check on a particular situation and though I didn't find anything, I'm sure the author did far better research than I did so that really didn't make much of a difference for me quite honestly.  I did think that the last couple sections were unnecessary.  I think I would've liked it to have stopped at one certain point to make a little more of an impact. Either way you guys, I absolutely recommend this book.  And I absolutely adore Hailey as a character, even with some of her traits. *wink*

★★★★

ABOUT LISA


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series.

In addition to the success of Lisa's INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is also the author of the bestselling WHITE LIES and LILAH LOVE series. 

Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women's Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

CONNECT WITH LISA
Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/LisaReneeJones

“Can I join you?” he asks, motioning to the table.

There’s interest in his eyes, the kind a man has for a woman, but who knows, maybe it’s real or maybe it’s not real. Maybe he knows who I am and sees a path to power and fame. The way Tobey wanted me for money and power, right up until the moment I’d called his number aka his agenda; thus, he has not called me since I left. Maybe Harvard will lie even better than Tobey did. Maybe Harvard will at least kiss better than he did, and the lies would taste like temptation rather than convenience. At least then, if I’m used, I’ll enjoy being used.

Whatever the case, it’s clear I might actually be angry with Tobey and that aside, the interest that Harvard has shown in me, must be controlled before my Denver sanctuary is destroyed. “You can join me,” I say, “but only because I’m trying to save the rest of the place from the attorney in the house.”

I am pleased when Harvard laughs, where Tobey would have scowled, proving that Harvard has a sense of humor, which is rare for those in my life. I’ve barely completed this thought when he moves forward and claims the seat next to me, not across from me, settling his briefcase on that chair instead. In the process, his leg brushes my leg and for the briefest of moments, I’m transported back to the place that I’m now trying to forget: to Austin, to Drew’s leg next to mine, his wink, and I do now what I did then. I jerk back. If Harvard notices he doesn’t react. “Since we haven’t been formally introduced,” he says, resting his naked hands on the table. “I’m Logan. Logan Casey.”

“Logan Casey,” I repeat trying to ground myself in the present, at least for now, but some part of me is still swimming in that memory, which naturally has me wondering if this man is a shark in the water around me. “Two first names,” I add. “Sounds like your parents fought over who got to pick your first name. Did they draw straws for which choice became your middle name?”

“You’re actually right on target,” he says, laughing again, and it’s a nice, masculine laugh, and oddly this thought feels familiar while Logan does not. “No one has ever guessed that,” he adds. “My mother won the name war. The women always win. Speaking of names. Do you have one?”

“Hailey Anne Pitt,” I say, “and in my house, my father won the name war.” Because in my father’s world, I add silently, the women don’t win the wars. At least, not that he knows, not in an obvious way. I’ve learned this well.

“Well then, Hailey Anne Pitt,” he says, “what’s a Stanford girl like you, doing in a place like this? You’re a long way from school.”

I’m smacked in the face with a lesson I’ve long ago learned and forgotten with this man; strangers do not always remain strangers and all offhanded remarks can come back to haunt you. “That was a joke,” I say, shutting the door connected to my real life, and a path that leads to my father. “I hate attorneys, remember?”

He narrows his eyes on me, and for no reason other than instinct, I believe he’s looking for a lie that he won’t find. I’m simply too well-taught from birth, too skilled at being more than one person to allow such a detection. Well that, and the fact that I really do hate attorneys, which is why I’ll be a good one.

“That was a joke?” he confirms.

“Yes,” I say. “Are you amused?”

“Yes, actually. I am. What does a lawyer-hating smart ass like yourself do for a living?”

“When not busy taunting those who went to law school,” I say. “I’m an aspiring artist.” Both honest answers, if you put a “was” in front of the “aspiring artist” which I’d thought that I’d come to terms with, but the knot in my stomach says I have not.

Logan motions toward the art room. “Your career explains why you ended up here.”

“I guess it does,” I say, as this place serves me well to reconnecting to the Pitt part of my life, which is a place I really need to be right now, for all kinds of reasons.

“Are you good?” Logan asks, as if he’s read my mind.

My father’s words answer him in my head. Art is useless unless you’re famous, he used to say often, because of course, it was inconceivable that I might be good enough to be famous. “Art is like movies and food,” I say, shoving aside that bad memory. “Good is subjective.” I don’t give him time to reply. I ping the conversation back toward him. “What kind of law do you practice?”

“Corporate,” he says, and this time he pings back to me. “Do you live in the neighborhood?”

“Yes,” I say simply. “Do you?”

“I bought a building a few years ago where I live and work which means this is my home turf, and why I know you’re new here.”

“I am,” I say and since he’s clearly going to ask for details, I quickly preempt with an on-the-fly story. Actually, it’s the suggested story, Rudolf included in my file. “I came here for a job, and my new boss owns a house he’s rented to me for dirt cheap.”

“And what does an artist do but create art for a living?”

“I’m working for a private art acquisitions firm. I now hunt for treasures for a living.” This lie is actually my dream job that I’ve never been allowed to entertain. 

The horror flick loving waitress delivers my coffee and brownie. “Thank you,” I say, because every politician’s daughter has manners beaten into her.

“No problem,” she says, “but if you come to your senses and want a better version of that coffee, just shout.” She eyes Logan. “I already know you want a crappy tasting coffee, on endless pour and a chocolate chip cookie. Coming right up.”

“Thanks, Megan,” he says, giving her a wink that I don’t classify as flirtatious, just friendly, and Megan is gone.

“Obviously you’re a regular,” I comment, “and they even like you.”

“And they like me,” he confirms, “despite knowing I’m an attorney.

“Because you’re good looking and use it to your advantage.”

He arches a brow. “You think I’m good looking, do you?”

“Oh, come on,” I say, crinkling my nose. “Everyone thinks you’re good looking. I’m simply stating a fact. We use what we have and those of us that are smart, know what we have.” I move on from what is really quite inconsequential. “Why work here, not at home, or in the office?”

“I find I get a lot of work done with a cookie, coffee, and no access to streaming television,” he explains.

No one in my D.C. crowd would make an admission of being human and distractible. Some people in my situation might take comfort in that fact, but I don’t. Logan’s an attorney, and my gut, which I’ll confirm with research, says he’s a powerful one, the kind that radiates toward my father. Maybe that’s a coincidence and maybe it’s not. Maybe he’s testing how well I execute my cover story. The possibilities are many. Though in all fairness to Logan, perhaps I’d lean toward his innocence, if not for the laundry list of recent events such as Tobey being gay and the FBI agent, who is likely working for my father, that I slept with to prove I was a) still desirable and b) not a killer.

#ATBR2019 Review: Mine by Courtney Cole @gallerybooks @court_writes @jessmapreviews

Mine 
by Courtney Cole

Thank you Gallery for these free books.


Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: May 28, 2019
Paperback
304 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Domestic Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Our world was crumbling. You took advantage. 

He was weak. You’re weaker.  
A wedding ring isn’t a challenge.  It’s a promise. 
But that promise wasn’t for you.
Get some self respect.  And get your own life.  
My husband isn’t yours. 
He’s mine.  
And no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be me.  
You don’t have the balls.


PS
F@ck you.

My Review:


I absolutely adored Cole's Saving Beck last year and when I saw she came out with this Domestic/Psychological Thriller, I was beyond excited to receive a surprise copy. SCORE! We get your typical premise when it comes to wife/mistress/husband... but Cole does it with such finesse that I literally opened this book to page one and three hours later turned the last page and finally put it down. Yes, ladies and gents, it's THAT compulsive of a read!

What happens when you make your bed and then your husband and his mistress sleeps in it?  You think you have a solid and loving marriage and then one tragic moment when you open his iPad and see his sexts to his mistress and your whole world implodes while the outside world explodes in a hurricane.  How apropos.  Lure said mistress to your house and let the crazy begin! When a woman feels disrespected and betrayed, on either side, anything can happen.  Your first thought is revenge on the woman and then potentially the man who caused the whole situation to begin with.  

Listen, shit gets real.  Everything contained in this book is plausible, bat shit or not. I could not put this book down.  Then, when I read the afterword and found that Cole wrote this based on her own experiences with infidelity - wow, just wow honestly.  Some couples can make it through, some can't. But what's true through and through is the rage that is felt.  Even for the woman who knew what she was walking into - does she really though? Love is blind but so is rage.

Absolutely recommend this for a quick, fast paced ride to crazy town - population: EVERYONE.

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I don't even know where to start with this. I read this in an evening - I just could not put it down! I started at home before we rand errands and continued in our hour drive to our destination. MINE is the definition of a binge-read. Make sure you clear out some time in your schedule when you pick this one up!

Tessa seems to have it all - a successful make up company, 3 teenage kids, and a loving husband of over 2 decades. After dropping her kids off at her parents' house for the weekend, she gets home to spend the time alone with her husband. Plans change when his flight is delayed from New York and a hurricane starts up. 

Planning on getting some work done, she comes across some explicit texts and photos on her husband's iPad from another woman. What do you do in a blind rage when you find out your husband is being unfaithful? Well, you lure the mistress to your home for some answers, right?

I don't want to go into anymore detail because this book is CRAZY! Tessa and Lindsey have a night they'll probably never forget as we're brought through the details of Ethan's infidelity. Going from Tessa's perspective (present day) and Lindsey's perspective (from when she meets Ethan to this night), we get a glimpse into how the events culminated into one insane evening. The emotions felt throughout this book are so real and this is an entirely plausible premise. I definitely recommend reading the Acknowledgments at the end - knowing this is based on Cole's experiences with infidelity made it even more authentic and real.

I recommend this to everyone and anyone that wants a thrill-ride and a good dose of crazy. Plenty of action and intensity to keep you sucked in from page one. Like they say - hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

5 stars

Monday, May 13, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker @stmartinspress

The Night Before 
by Wendy Walker

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for these copies.


Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: May 14, 2019
Hardcover
320 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller


First dates can be murder. 

Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control. 

Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.

Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date. 

When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…


My Review:


My second Walker book, I definitely see how her style can be compulsive, even with the slower pace that I have found in both this and Emma In The Night.  Short chapters, unreliable narrators and a plot that keeps you guessing until the final reveals.

Poor Laura - always so unlucky in love and willing to chameleon herself to make herself worthy of her new love.  A woman who believes in love but in the way that she is determined to make it happen, taking in the good things too much to heart.. and the bad things, calculating and untrusting.  This does not bode well for her as she goes on a date with a man from the internet.  

Nothing and no one is as they appear to be.  I was a bit confused on one part between two of the characters.  How did this little bit get thrown in and then not revisited? I'm a teeny bit baffled on this.  While I did enjoy the story line, some things just didn't quite add up for me.  There were definitely some lull parts but Walker does manage to make a slower pace still quite interesting.  

Would I read Walker again? Absolutely!  I'm not sure if this slow pace is her style across all of her books but I do absolutely appreciate the crazy stories that she seems to produce... even if some things don't quite add up.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


This was my first time reading Wendy Walker and I completely understand why people love her books. A weaving story line, different timelines, not knowing who to trust, and plenty of twists and turns. THE NIGHT BEFORE kept me turning the pages and had plenty of surprises that I didn't see coming. 

Laura hasn't always had the best luck when it comes to men. Desperately trying to find love but with all the wrong men it seems. After a nasty break up, she returns to her childhood home to live with her sister, Rosie, and her husband Joe. Laura, Rosie, Joe, and their friend Gabe all grew up together - they have secrets from their pasts that they are trying to keep in the past. When Laura decides it's time to get back in the dating pool, everyone is nervous for her but it's just a first date, what could happen?

Rosie goes into panic mode when Laura hasn't returned home the next morning. Could it be that she lost track of time and stayed the night somewhere? Could something back have happened to her? Or worse - could she have done something bad to her date? So many questions, some answers, and more doubt arises as we get Laura's background. Doubts are raised about her date - is she the only one lying about who she is?

While I did go through this quickly, there were some parts that felt a little on the slower side. We go between Laura's POV "the night before", Rosie's POV "the morning after", and then transcripts from Laura's meetings with her shrink when she was in New York months earlier. I think this was a well-written and constructed suspense novel. Like I said, I didn't see a lot of those twists coming and I really liked them! The only thing that dropped my rating was that it came to a couple lulls in the middle. Overall, I would still definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for a suspense novel and I will for sure be picking up more from Walker!

3.5 stars