Tag: fiction

BOOK REVIEW: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes

BOOK REVIEW: You (You #1) by Caroline KepnesYou (You #1)
by Caroline Kepnes
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

You made your way onto my shelf unexpectedly, a gift from a long ago friend. You sat there, totally unassuming, just waiting your turn to be read. You stared unabashedly at me as I skimmed my shelves, always skirting right past you, knowing someday I’d probably pick you up, but not wholly sure if I’d ever make the time. You sat there, waiting patiently with your gorgeously disturbing cover that always intrigued me, always enraptured me, but never quite could pull me in, despite how perfect you were. I didn’t know you, Book. I didn’t know that we were somehow perfectly imperfect for one another and that when I started you, I’d be addicted to the point of obsession…even as you repeatedly tested my morals and boundaries. Even as you made yourself hard to read (haha). But I never gave up on you, Book-I always held out hope we’d be friends. And someone obviously knew I was immensely disturbed and loved morally grey (more like black) male leads. I’m just sad it took a tv-show preview, a ridiculously addicting song remake, and an actor [I will not name] I love to make me truly see you, Book. But I’m so glad I did. Now we are destined to be together forever.

Ahhh see what I did there? Tee-hee. I know, I knooow, I’m sure this has been done, like, a million times. But I really never looked at reviews much, so I wana say I’m wholly original???? But I doubt that’s the case. Either way, WTF was this book????? WTF was this addicting, repetitive, addictive, repetitive book?

I started this story because of the show-sorry, I’ll admit it-but I’ve had it foreverrrrr. I’ve NEVER been a fan of books that make me feel bad, that clearly don’t have a HEA written out in the stars. But, for some reason, my friend thought I would love this (Joe. She thought I’d love Joe), and I always held out hope I’d be able to pick this up and stomach this one day. Apparently, that day came when I saw Penn’s beautiful, stalkerish face up on the screen with the most darkly enticing rendition of ‘I Want You to Want Me’ ever.

Two things you should know about me:

1) Put an actor I ADORE in a movie, and I’m likely to give it a try, no matter the content
2) Make a commercial, movie trailer, whatever with a song that has been remastered or, in this case, darkened, that makes it flow beautifully and I. Am. OBSESSED.

“Do you have any beards?”
She objects jokingly, “Are you quite serious, young man?”
“It’s cold out there.”
“We have beards but they’re not all Dickensian.”

She lowers the volume on the ancient tape player. Celine Dion in cassette isn’t very Dickensian either, but she concedes and points me toward the non-Dickensian, nonrefundable beards, which are in a box in the back marked JOHNNY DEPP/DUCK DYNASTY.
Fucking America, Beck. I just don’t know sometimes.

Legit, I can’t stop thinking about things. I’m like Joe in that way-I get weirdly obsessed with things-well created trailers, product commercials, tv show commercials when they are made with a song that seems as if it were molded just for the purpose of making that show (or whatever) pop. It’s super weird, but at least I can own it. SO, really, the song is what did it. Look what you made me do! (haha)

I was just sitting there with my husband, dog, and daughter, and I heard this epic and dark song and I looked up and….there You were. I was done. I started reading it the next day, which just so happened to be the day the show came out (and yes, I am studiously recording it). But I was good, I didn’t want to ruin the book. And though there were parts that reallllyyy were hard for me, I ended up really loving this. Sometimes I don’t know what will make me tick, only that it does. And I think it’s more than just Joe. I find myself pondering my life more often after just finishing this darkly seductive book. When I walk past an open window in my new house, I pause, wondering who is out there. No, I’m not that vain. However; people are creeps, and I’m used to living out in the country where no one is watching. It’s an insanely intense feeling I’m not used to, haven’t been used to since I was 6 or 7. Also, I ponder what it would be like if I were a more social media infused person.

As it is, I only use it for our handle, @starcrossedbookblog, and I have a private personal account I got once I had my daughter just so family members would stop texting incessantly for pictures of her. The jury is still out on if that is a successful endeavor, though. MY POINT IS, I’m very aware of how easy it is to be traced, followed, or just flat out stalked or seen. We sift through life on a cloud, never paying attention to the crazy surrounding us-we’re comfortable. And it’s deeply unsettling how little we see, how blind we can be, and what danger is lurking around each and every corner-whether that be some rabid beast (okay, coyotes freak me the f*** out), a serial killer, a robber, whatever…they’re everywhere. And I really need to be more aware.

So yeah, this book effected me in a way I find I am having trouble explaining without sounding vapid, but I’m okay with that, because it’s how I feel. But then there were the characters. Those selfish, psycho, into-themselves characters. Because of said characters, it’s hard to not fall for the manic, lonely, and idealistic Joe. It’s just sad to see how alone he is, how one girl’s flirty advances can set off a landslide that will forever effect everyone surrounding them.

And, I’m sorry, I’m just going to say it: I didn’t like Beck. She wasn’t worthy of his affections (yet she’s so sweet in the show, not fair), yet he went after her with every fiber of his being, even after she strung him along time and time again. I mean, yes, he is a MURDERER. I’m not dumb. I’m just sayinggg if you’re guna stalk someone, stalk someone worth stalking.

But that’s also the beauty of this book: It shows how we are all morally gray people, and that even though we don’t think we’re into ourselves, above all else, we are. We put us first, and if we stomp on someone along the way, will we even notice? Who cares? It was just some dude I saw somewhere, what does it matter? Apparently a lot, to some. *shivers*

…and because I want to be there in case you need me, I am gonna have to sell a fucking Dickens on eBay to cover the expenses of the motel, the costume, and the psychotherapy I’ll no doubt need when I realize I am permanently fucked up from from that day I froze my ass off in pantaloons and stood on a deck with a bunch of quarter-wits. The half-wits are at home watching Great Expectations, the movie.

I loved that I was always cringing, thinking to myself, GAWD I do this. I do this all the time. The excuses. The lateness. The thrill of ‘something new’. I mean, not to Beck’s extreme, but I can be careless…and I’m blind to it. I think that, even though this book made me ill at the end, that’s why I’m still thinking about it even days later. I just really, thoroughly enjoyed this book.

”Are you ready?”
“In a second,” I say and maybe Irish women don’t speak English. Celine Dion is still screaming about her goddamned heart and I’m choking on mothballs and self-loathing and if you would have told View Spoiler » about me, View Spoiler »could have rented costumes for both of us.

And the humor!!! Oh my gosh, do you know how many times I laughed out loud? How many times my husband was like, what are you even laughing at, Chelsea? My answer every time? Joe-OMG, this guy is a HILARIOUS psychopath-he says the funniest stuff! But I wouldn’t tell him what I was laughing at, because you just don’t get it if you aren’t in this dude’s mind for a while-his sarcasm. His string of thought. How everyone is so beneath him, yet he sees that he is imperfect. He isn’t rational. He isn’t sane. But that’s why I found him so funny, so darkly funny: There was a lot of truth to his crazy.

We think it-he says it.

That’s all there is to it, and I totally dug it. And, last thing: I hated Beck’s friend, Peach, too. Like…eew. But this is where it was also a really cool idea-everything we hear is from Joe’s mind-and, lemme tell ya, he is an extremely unreliable narrator.

So what is true? What isn’t? I LOVED THIS. Because even though he’s telling us how to feel, you can’t lie about what is written (texts, emails, IMs)…so, we see that Beck, Peach, Benji, whomever really are assholes…even if he embellishes it. Mind=blown.

Obviously I loved this, even after a rocky start where I was wholly grossed out by the personal masturbation and almost-public-masturbation, the sexual nature of the whole story, really.

Somewhere along the way it stopped being a shock to me and became something I didn’t want to put down and had to finish. And, honestly, I’ll admit it: I’m a sick sick sicko, because I wanted them to get together for a little bit, I wanted Joe to win Beck’s affections and for them to DO IT. I did. Why else am I reading this crap if not for the thrill of how wrong it all was? **I eat chicken, then I look at naked pictures of my friends!**


So yeah, this was a winner, even as I wonder why it was. It just clicked. And sometimes that’s all it takes. Click.

*******

What?

Don’t look at me like that…can’t a girl inconspicuously jump on a bandwagon?

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney SummersSadie by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and the author, Courtney Summers, for my free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

I finished Sadie almost a month ago and I’ve struggled how I wanted to review this book. I haven’t really read anything like it and honestly, after I finished the last page and closed the book, I was left feeling a bit sad and empty.

It’s a tragic story on every level. Sadie, our main character, hasn’t had an easy life. Her mother, who is both a drug addict and often absent, has abandoned Sadie and her other daughter Mattie, in their small rural town. Mind you, Sadie is around 17 when the story begins, who isn’t even an adult herself. And then Mattie is murdered, shattering Sadie’s entire paper-thin world. And with nothing left to lose, and no help from anyone else, Sadie begins her quest to get justice for Mattie.

Intertwined in Sadie’s story is investigative journalist/podcaster Wes McCray, who is working to figure out what happened to Sadie, as we learn she is consider “missing” by the small group of people who care about her. The format of the novel is ‘regular’ chapters from Sadie’s POV and transcript chapters from Wes’s podcast interviews. I really enjoyed this format and loved a true crime podcast as a vehicle for telling Sadie’s story, as there are so many great true crime podcasts doing similar work in real-life.

I also appreciated Summers giving Sadie an additional layer of complexity, as Sadie has an almost debilitating stutter that greatly affects how she interacts with others. It’s not something I’ve seen put into a story before, so kudos for Summers adding in that representation.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this is not an easy story to read. There’s not a lot of happiness or light-hearted moments. It’s a dark but realistic story, so just go in preparing to get heart stomped all over. Don’t let that deter you, but just be prepared.

I have risked everything for this kindness, or whatever it is, and that make me worry I’m too starved, too broken, to anything right.

Be sure to also check out Chelsea’s review and interview with Courtney Summers here.

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
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

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
Book Depository
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
Book Depository
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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