Tag: fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

BOOK REVIEW: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa SteinkeGirls' Night Out by Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke
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Synopsis:

From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding...

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it's time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls' getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they're reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they're hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls' night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she'd met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse--could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren's search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing--or too afraid--to admit.

Thank you NetGalley, the authors (Liz Fenton) and the publisher (Lake Union Publishing) for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

“What kind of girls’ night out does he not understand?” Natalie asked.

This is a perfect summer book. Do yourself a favor and find a body of water (pool/ocean/lake/etc.) and dive in. You’re in for a wild ride.

Girls’ Night Out switches between Natalie, Ashley and Lauren — three friends who are trying to repair old wounds during a trip to Tulum, Mexico. On their last night, Ashley goes missing and Lauren and Natalie are left to piece together what happened.

The book jumps back and forth between the night of Ashley disappearing and the events leading up to the night. Things are certainly tense between the women as there is a lot of history and hurt feelings coming from all directions.

Had she become addicted to how the anger felt, how it slid into the small chasms of her budding happiness, crushing it? Maybe.

“But you know what the difference is? You get to decide! You took that away from me. And I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for that.”

While this book is certainly a thriller, it also takes a deep dive at friendships and whether they can be saved, even after they’ve turned toxic or started to fall apart. I appreciated the author writing three complicated, but strong, women who are neither fully good or bad. All three are complex and we feel for them, even as they make poor choices. And I really didn’t see the ending coming – it truly had me guessing up until the very end.

Just FYI, trigger warnings for abuse (physical and emotional) and drug/alcohol use. Also some mention of rape, but only speculative.

All in all, this was a fun read and I would certainly recommend it. And as I mentioned before, bonus points if you have a cold drink and a warm, sunny spot by some water to read it near.

Girls’ Night Out will be released July 24, 2018.

BOOK REVIEW: After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

BOOK REVIEW: After Nightfall by A.J. BannerAfter Nightfall by A.J. Banner
Purchase on: Amazon
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

Thank you NetGalley, the author (A.J. Banner) and the publisher (Lake Union Publishing) for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I read A.J. Banner’s The Twilight Wife a little more than a year ago and quite enjoyed it.

So when I saw she had a new book and I received a copy of it early, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped.

After Nightfall is from the perspective of Marissa, who is recently engaged. She is also working on repairing a fragile friendship with Lauren, who she had a falling out in college (reasons explained about halfway through). One morning after an awkward dinner party, Marissa discovers Lauren’s body at the bottom of a cliff, and from there, attempts to find out exactly what happened.

The book is focused on Marissa’s relationship with her fiance and his daughter, as well as her fraught relationship with Lauren. I think many of us can relate to friendships that at one point were everything to use, but later fall apart for various reasons. Sometimes opportunities present themselves to try and fix them, and I think many of us feel the need to try and recapture something that we dearly loved at one point in time. Banner did an excellent job of writing Marissa’s complicated feelings around this very thing.

He lured me in, so how was I to know what he would do?

I was intrigued by this story for sure. However, I found Marissa to be a difficult character to like at times. She made some very poor and confusing choices, but could other times be a great friend and mother-figure for her fiance’s daughter.

I enjoyed the reveal at about the 92% mark, but the last few pages of the book left me frustrated and a bit confused. It’s definitely not a clean ending and makes me wish for more closure to the situation.

 

While I certainly don’t mind unreliable narrators, I don’t enjoy confusing or unfinished endings, which is exactly what happened here. So while I did enjoy various parts of the story, overall, I was disappointed by this book, considering how much I liked the author’s previous novel.

Can a person be good and bad? Even me? Even you?

After Nightfall will be released August 7, 2018.

BOOK REVIEW: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

BOOK REVIEW: Something in the Water by Catherine SteadmanSomething in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut--for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman's enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we're tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Thank you NetGalley, the author Catherine Steadman and the publisher, Ballantine, for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I wonder at what stage all of this started. If I could wind it back, how far back would I have to wind?

This book blew my out of the water. Haha, see what I did there?


From the first chapter, we know something bad has happened. I was immediately drawn to Erin, our narrator and main character of the book. Erin is a documentary filmmaker who is engaged to Mark, who works in finance. It was honestly one of the most riveting openings to a book I’ve read in a long time. It was a brilliant way to kick things off.

After the events of the first chapter, we travel back in time and learn how Mark and Erin met and how they fell in love. We start off a few weeks before their wedding, which is also when Erin is beginning her film on prisoners transitioning back into real world.

Erin and Mark then head to Bora Bora for their dream honeymoon, and while scuba diving, they discover something that serves as the catalyst for the rest of the book. From there, we follow Erin and Mark as they deal with the ramifications for what they found until we finally circle back to the events in the first chapter.

I promise myself that once this is all over I’ll be honest; I’ll never lie again. I’ll be the best wife in the world. I promise.


And what a circle it is. I’ve read a number of thrillers in the last couple years, but this one is up there as one of the best ones. I loved it. The writing style is near perfection. Without being overly descriptive and wordy, the author clearly paints an image of everything we (the reader) sees. The setting of Bora Bora certainly doesn’t hurt either! From what I see on Goodreads, this is the author’s first book, which is quite surprising. It is so well done and I’m very much looking forward to reading what she writes next.

I’d highly recommend this–even better if you can read it by the ocean/pool/lake.

But what could I have done? What can you do? You can’t save everyone. Sometimes you just have to save yourself.

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