Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: His Favorites: A Novel by Kate Walbert

Blurb from Goodreads:
From the highly acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award finalist and author of A Short History of Women, a timely and propulsive novel about a teenaged girl, a beloved English teacher, and his dark, open secret.

It seemed harmless enough. They were having fun, three teenaged girls speeding on a golf cart through the greens, at night, drunk. The cart crashes and one of the girls, Stephanie lands violently in the rough, killed instantly. Neither the driver, Jo, nor the other friend is physically injured.

Jo—an instant social pariah—flees her hometown and enrolls in Hawthorne, a prestigious boarding school, far away from the stigma of the accident. Her past weighing on her conscience, Jo is determined to make things right. Then she encounters the charismatic English teacher. 

This fiercely urgent story reveals the interior life of a young woman reeling from trauma and trying to make sense of her treacherous new world and its betrayals. Walbert, who brilliantly explored a century of women’s struggle for rights and self-fulfillment in her award-winning A Short History of Women, limns the devastating, all-too-common violations of vulnerability and aspiration. From the publisher of the classic A Separate Peace, His Favorites is a taut, heartbreaking novel by a “wickedly smart writer” (The New York Times Book Review) whose work is “fascinating, moving and significant” (The Washington Post).
My Review:
Um, I feel like this wasn't finished - like only half a book.  It was so short and it jumped around so much between past and present.  I suppose it might even be charitable to call this a novella? It seemed like and read like a journal, a draft of a testimony, some stray thoughts that were the beginnings of an outline of a novel.  So many unformed thoughts, so many stories left hanging and unfinished. Abandoned. I wish there were more -- more explanation, more words, more finality.  

His Favorites came out earlier this week on August 14, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.
"You should treat your words with more," he said.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"And never apologize," he said. "What is it with you girl always apologizing? As if everything is your fault--the Fall of Rome, the Crusades, Watergate, we men the cause of every great fuckup in history and you girls the sorry, sorry magpies. Apology parrots. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry," he said, his voice falsetto.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland #1) by Chloe Neill

Blurb from Goodreads:
In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill's spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she's a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he's prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever.
My Review:
I [mostly] loved the Chicagoland Vampires series so I was pretty intrigued and excited for this spin-off featuring the "heirs" of all of our favorite characters from that series.  That being said, maybe it's too soon?  I don't know but this book had all the things I didn't love about the series - a bit cheesy, over the top and hard to follow the minutiae.  I will keep reading to see if it improves because I know the capability of this author and these subjects and there was enough of a spark of an idea that could work.  But his first book wasn't quite the bang I was hoping for . . .  

Wild Hunger came out yesterday on August 14, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  Let's hope this series improves as it continues!
"It's not a risk-free idea," she admitted. "But what's the other option? We sit around while Riley's in lockup?"
"We could end up dead." 
"That's true for you every time the sun rises. The only thing that matters is what you do in the dark."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: The Line That Held Us by David Joy

Blurb from Goodreads:
From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.
My Review:
The last David Joy book I read, Where All Light Tends to Go, was one of my favorites of the year in which I read it. So, of course, I had high expectations for this one and I have to say that they fell a bit . . . flat.  Don't get me wrong - the writing was great and I think the character development was better than most but it almost was too over the top.  The stereotypes, the reactions, the story - it almost felt like a parody.  Whereas the last book I read by this author felt unique, authentic and deeply personal and real, this one just felt cobbled together and almost written by an outsider looking in.  It was a fast read but it left my heart with a bit of a hole because it could have been so much more.

The Line That Held Us comes out tomorrow on August 14, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  
All his life there'd been a thoughtlessness that came on before the kill. It was something hard to explain to anyone else, but that feeling was on him now as he braced the rifle against the trunk of the oak and tried to steady his aim, a mind whittled back to instinct.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: The Drama Teacher by Koren Zailckas

Blurb from Goodreads:
By the New York Times bestselling author of Mother, Mother and Smashed, a propulsive new thriller featuring a devious and unreliable narrator who will do anything to give her family a better life

Gracie Mueller is a proud mother of two and devoted wife, living with her husband Randy in upstate New York, her life complicated by the usual stressors and tedium—young children, marriage, money—and she’s settled down comfortably enough. But Gracie, underneath all that’s marked her life as average, has a lot to hide about where she’s from, who she is, and who she’s been. And when Randy’s failing career as a real estate agent makes finances tight, their home goes into foreclosure, and Gracie feels she has no choice but to return to the creatively illegal and high-stakes lifestyle of her past in order to keep all that she’s worked so hard to have. 

Gracie learned from her manipulatively charming father how to steal identities in order to survive, and she eases back into her routine of lying and cheating with a wicked skillset and gritty resolve. Things begin to slip out of her control, though, when her web of deceit lands her a job as a private school drama teacher--a role that demands emotional honesty--and soon more questions about the truth of her past are raised, including all the ones she never meant to, or even knew to, ask. 

Written with the style, energy, and penetrating insight that made her memoir Smashed a bestselling phenomenon, Koren Zailckas's next novel confirms her growing reputation as a psychological novelist that can stand up to the best of them.
My Review:
This was really good.  I enjoyed the first half immensely even though it was slow reading for some reason.  Then it took not a bad turn but one that didn't interest me as much.  I still loved the writing of this one and the building anticipation.  The character development was sublime! Gracie Mueller was a joy to step into even despite her cold, cold heart. I definitely want to find more from this author.  Definitely a unique but well written beach read!  Unexpected but delightful!

The Drama Teacher came out earlier this week on August 7, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  
He was so square, you could wage a game of chess on him, and I reckoned he had the sort of bohemian parents that were a regional trend Some failing authority figure had left him with no other course of rebellion. When sex, drugs, and a vegetarian diet are the norm, only steady employment has shock value.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: The Other Brother by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Blurb from Goodreads:
Veteran women's fiction writer Lauren Baratz-Logsted presents the moving story of a family disrupted by fame, perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer. 

Ever wonder what it must be like to be the younger sibling of someone so popular, princes and presidents are excited to meet him? Mona knows. Or thinks she does. Mona is married to Jack, younger brother to Denny Springer, lead singer for The Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band in the World. Jack happens to sing too, of course, not that anyone in the world notices very much. After Denny attends the family Easter dinner in London for the first time in decades, Mona invites Denny to join her and her family for the summer at a rental house in coastal Connecticut. She tells Denny it'll be a chance for him to finally bond with Jack, from whom Denny has been estranged for twenty years. Denny initially laughs at the idea…but then shows up on their doorstep. 

As the summer progresses, though, questions arise: Did Denny really have a change of heart and a sudden commitment to family? Or is he hiding something? More importantly, why did Mona invite him in the first place? Most importantly of all, how well do we ever really know anybody? 
My Review:
This was pretty meh, if I'm being honest. I think because I had read another book where the brother in law is a famous rock star and really liked it (read my review of The One You Really Want HERE), this one paled in comparison.  I also never connected with Mona, the MC.  She keeps kind of a big secret throughout the book and because of it she almost felt unreliable and like whenever really go to know her.  I appreciate that the secret was supposed to be a twist in the book but instead it felt weirdly deceptive.  You might have better luck!

The Other Brother comes out TODAY on August 7, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.
But then, as I stared out the front window, in my peripheral vision I saw a shadowy figure come around from the side of the house before beginning to move faster. It took me a while to realize what I was seeing. 
With the waves glistening in the background, under the moonlit sky, my brother-in-law was running on the deserted beach, alone.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Review: Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin

Blurb from Goodreads:
With the grit, sex, and suspense of Goliath, New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin’s Desperate Girls is a tightly wound, fast-paced thriller that examines intricate relationship dynamics in the wake of a killer’s symbolic revenge spree.

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.
My Review:
THIS book is the reason I love romantic suspense!  I suppose most of you know that it's my favorite genre and when done right . . . there is nothing better.  I can't even remember the last new romantic suspense book that made me feel this way but it's been years.  I love love loved this one!  So good - perfect mix of steamy and suspense.  Brynn was multi-faceted and I can tell, as a lawyer, that the descriptions of trial and trial prep felt real.  There were twists and turns but most importantly this book is setting up what promises to be an amazing series.  I won't go into details about either the romance or the suspense in this one but it is so good!  I didn't want it to end.

Desperate Girls comes out next week on August 7, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  I cannot wait for more in this series!!
Mary Halloran had spent thirty-two years at a Houston law firm, starting as a receptionist and retiring as the legal secretary to the firm's senior partner. Brynn had worked in the soaring glass building as a temp in the summers and learned all the most important things about being a lawyer Her mom had taught her how to be cool under pressure and handle calls from assholes and deal with handsy men. She also taught her how to look good on a shoestring budget. Brynn remembered nights up late in their little apartment watching her mother fix runs in her panty hose with nail polish and color her roots with Nice 'n Easy. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review: Paradox (FBI Thriller #22) by Catherine Coulter

Blurb from Goodreads:
With unparalleled suspense and her trademark explosive twists, #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter delves into the terrifying mind of an escaped mental patient obsessed with revenge in this next installment of her riveting FBI series. When he fails to kidnap five-year-old Sean Savich, agents Sherlock and Savich know they’re in his crosshairs and must find him before he continues with his ‘kill’ list.

Chief Ty Christie of Willicott, Maryland, witnesses a murder at dawn from the deck of her cottage on Lake Massey. When dragging the lake, not only do the divers find the murder victim, they also discover dozens of bones. Even more shocking is the identification of a unique belt buckle found among the bones. Working together with Chief Christie, Savich and Sherlock soon discover a frightening connection between the bones and the escaped psychopath.

Paradox is a chilling mix of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, old secrets that refuse to stay buried, and ruthless greed that keep Savich and Sherlock and Chief Ty Christie working at high speed to uncover the truth before their own bones end up at the bottom on the lake.

Don’t miss Paradox, the twenty-second FBI thriller. 
My Review:
I have a love/hate relationship with this series - it used to be one of my favorites but the past five or so books have not been very good.  I'm honestly not sure why I keep trying but I do because I still remember when I looked forward to every summer and the release of a new book.  This one was just predictable - I think the series needs to move on.  The same little details keep being re-tread and I felt like this book was super similar to prior books.  Sherlock and Savich were in fine form but it wasn't enough to save this book.

Paradox comes out TODAY on July 31, 2018, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!

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