Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover



Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: October 2017, Atria Books
Format: ARC E-book, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My thoughts: I am still relatively new to Colleen Hoover's books - this is only the second book of hers I've read, It Ends With Us being the other one. From what I understand, she has taken a slightly different direction with these two from her previous books - they are more serious in nature and less reliant on the romance angle. Either way - I thoroughly enjoyed both, this latest one really taking me by surprise!

I think what really stands out about this book is that it's unlike anything I've read before. It's both painful and raw and yet also redeeming and hopeful. It tackles some really tough, uncomfortable topics - mental health, depression and suicide -  as well as dysfunctional families and secrets. But as much as it deals with all this heavy stuff, it's equally balanced with lighthearted humor and just a little hint of romance.

The cast of characters that make up this story are all flawed and most of them are what I would call quirky. They all have some pretty deep and complex issues, most of which they refuse to acknowledge. And, for the kicker - they have pretty much stopped communicating with each other, other than for basic necessity.

What I found pretty interesting is that this story isn't about one big event, but rather it's all these little events that slowly build up...almost like the butterfly effect. As all these little events are building up, layer upon layer, one on top of the other, it's as if a storm is brewing and then BAM! Eventually is has to no where to go but to explode - and then watch out! But what's truly amazing is that the end result of this outburst is not what you expect - it's all about perspective. Because sometimes the secrets we are holding aren't what they seem.

This novel will have you thinking and coming back to perspective time and time again. As I said before, it's a painful, honest read, but also a very powerful read. It's heartfelt and heartwarming and one that you will be thinking about long after you finish the last page.



About the author:  Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.


Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 
|    Instagram





Without Merit  by Colleen Hoover
Atria Books
October 3, 2017 
Paperback ISBN: 9781501170621 
E-book ISBN: 9781501170638
 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

Title: Hide and Seek
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Series: Helen Grace, #6
Published: October 2016, Penguin Books
Format: Paperback, 372 pages
Source: Personal copy 
 
Prison is no place for a detective

Helen Grace was one of the country's best police investigators. Now she's behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder

She knows there is only way out: stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer

But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door, Helen fears her days are numbered. A murderer is on the loose. And she must find them.

Before she becomes the next victim...

My thoughts: Last December, I was in London and found this gem in one of the bookstores I was perusing...and I was ecstatic!!! I knew it wouldn't be out in the states for quite some time, so of course I bought it...but as most bookworms know, finding the time to read it proved to be difficult. Turns out, I didn't get to read it right away and now here we are, me posting my review when the book is already out here in the states! Oh well, best laid plans and all that!

One thing I want to say before going any further with my review...I highly, highly, highly recommend reading the prior book in this series, Little Boy Blue, before reading this book in order to get the full impact of this story. I actually recommend reading the whole series in order, but if nothing else, read Little Boy Blue first as this one picks up right where that one left off and gives the reason why Helen is where she is and sets up other parts of the story. 

Anyway...I love this series...Helen Grace is one of my favorite characters - she's tough and ruthless and holds nothing back to solve the cases she's given. But in this book, we see her in completely different circumstances - we see a more vulnerable side to her. In this installment, Helen finds herself behind bars, on the wrong side of the law...yet that doesn't stop her from investigating the murders that are taking place inside of the prison. See - that's what I love about her - her determination to always put her job above all else!

I found this book to be such a fast, twisty, crazy read. I also loved the claustrophobic feeling you get as you read - not necessarily an easy feat to pull off, but I felt Arlidge was successful in this. The use of short chapters help to amp up not only the tension and suspense but the pace as well. This is quite the gripping read and I cannot wait to see what comes next!



Books in this series:
 
     1.  Eeny Meeny
     2.  Pop Goes the Weasel
     3.  The Doll's House
     4.  Liar Liar
     5.  Little Boy Blue  

     5.5  No Way Back
     6.  Hide and Seek

     6.5  Running Blind 
     7.  Love Me Not

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Title: The Last Mrs. Parrish
Author: Liv Constantine
Published: October 2017, Harper
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher
 
A mesmerizing debut psychological thriller full of delicious twists about a coolly manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut to achieve the privileged life she wants.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

My thoughts: What a fun, twisted, crazy book!!! I picked this gem up at BookExpo this past Spring and have been looking forward to reading it, but never did I expect it to be as good as it was...and I did not realize it was written by two sisters who wrote it via Skype - how cool is that!

I think what comes to mind when summing up this story is the old adage - be careful what you wish for. At least that's what I think of when I think of Amber...oh, she thought she was so clever and conniving, coming up with this great plan of hers...only to be basically outplayed in the end. But, I really don't want to give too much away as I really think you need to experience all the thrills and twists of this book for yourself.

What I will say is that I loved the way the story was told...first from Amber's point of view and then from Daphne's point of view. It really shook up the whole story - almost turning it upside down. There is so much going on just underneath the surface that you really need to be paying attention to - it's not so much what's being said as what's not being said.

You may think you know what's going on and you may think you know who the villains are - but believe me when I say - you don't. It's so not a case of black and white. This book will turn you inside out and have you rethinking everything as you delve deeper and deeper into the story. It will get under your skin - and good thing it's a fast read - I devoured it in an afternoon!

I so hope this isn't the last we've seen of this writing duo...this was a fantastic debut novel and I can't wait to see what comes next for them! They certainly have a knack for creating some deliciously devious characters and just the right amount of dark, twisty plots for them. Perfect reading on a chilly afternoon!

Book Spotlight: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Today, Next of Kin, the debut book by James Tucker is being published and to celebrate, I am helping the publisher get the word out. I will be reading this book and sharing my review soon! For now, please enjoy this spotlight and let me know if you will be reading this book :)

I'm always excited to find a new  crime thriller series to read and one that's set in NY - bonus!!! It's even better when I can get in on the series from the start. This police procedural/crime thriller seems like it will be right up my alley, so I can't wait to dig in!  


Title: Next of Kin
Author: James Tucker
Series: Detective Buddy Lock Mysteries, #1
Published: October 2017, Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, 348 pages
 
A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.

What readers are saying: 

“In Tucker’s impressive first novel and series launch, NYPD detective Buddy Lock…keeps the excitement level high throughout. The surprise ending will leave readers impatiently awaiting Buddy’s next outing.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Direct and fast-paced, Tucker’s debut takes readers on an adventurous ride…” —Kirkus Reviews

 “Terrific plot! And Buddy Lock is a cop protagonist that’s a delightful departure from the norm. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Next of Kin.” —Mike Lawson, author of the Joe DeMarco thrillers

"Gripping from its opening lines, Next of Kin is a white-knuckle page-turner, where ruthless power, murder, and crimes hidden for generations create an intricate, utterly absorbing tale. The life of a vulnerable young boy hangs in the balance, and Detective Buddy Lock must find the killer before it's too late. Simply a fantastic read." —Marya Hornbacher, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Wasted, The Center of Winter and Madness


******************************************************************************

About the author:  James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.


Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |
   Goodreads





Next of Kin  by James Tucker
Detective Buddy Lock Mysteries, Book 1
Thomas & Mercer
October 17, 2017 
Trade Paperback ISBN: 9781542045667
E-book ISBN: 9781542095662
 
 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

Title: Blood Wedding
Author: Pierre Lemaitre
Published: June 2016, MacLehose Press Quercus
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Sophie Duguet--young, successful, and happily married--thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she'd parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she'd said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn't remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams. 

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong. 


Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she'll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Pierre LeMaitre...but it definitely will not be the last! This was one crazy, insane, twisted psychological thriller - it totally had me on edge throughout and I enjoyed every minute of it...as crazy as that sounds!

This book is so twisted...I can't stress that enough! From the clever way it's told to the story itself - it totally gets under your skin. It even has that claustrophobic, paranoia feel to it at times. But that being said, it's also really hard to write this review without giving anything away, so forgive me for being vague - I certainly do not want to reveal any spoilers...this is one book where the less you know going into it the better!

I loved the way this story was told. You get to know Sophie first and you start to feel that she's a bit crazy. But you also feel a little bad for her that things go so wrong for her. I admit I was a bit confused as to what was going on here in this section...I couldn't wait to see what was coming next! Then in the second part, you meet someone else...and slowly the pieces start to come together. What I really loved about this part is that now the story goes from narrative to journal entries - it just gets more engaging and addictive!

I'm telling you, you will be hard-pressed to put this book down once you start reading it! Between the craziness of what is going on, the addictive story-telling, and the big twist halfway through - I was utterly hooked!  And as much as we get answers in the second part, there are still questions to be answered. And we do get them...eventually, but not before Lemaitre ramps up the fear and terror just enough to have you sitting on the edge of your seat, jumping at the slightest sound you hear. This book will have you watching over your back and making sure you aren't being followed for quite some time after you finish reading it...I know I did! 

As I mentioned before, this is my first experience reading Pierre LeMaitre but it certainly will not be my last. I already have his newest book, Three Days and a Life, on my shelf to read...but I definitely plan on adding his other books to my reading list as well! Have you read his books? If so, what are your favorites and which do you recommend I start with?


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Short & Sweet Review: The Lost Boy by Camilla Lackberg (audio)

Title: The Lost Boy
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Series: Patrik Hedstrom/Fjallbacka, #7
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: October 2016, Blackstone Audio
Length: 12 hours 56 minutes
Source: Library

From internationally best-selling Swedish crime sensation Camilla Läckberg comes a new psychological thriller - irresistible for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø. 

Mats Sverin was Fjällbacka's financial director on a regeneration project worth millions. When he's found dead, detective Patrik Hedström must find answers. 

It seems Mats was a man who everybody liked yet nobody really knew - a man with something to hide. Is it just a coincidence that his high school sweetheart, Nathalie, has returned to the area? Does she know who Mats really was? 

Nathalie has her own secret. Something has forced her and her five-year-old son to flee to their remote family home on the Ghost Isle, where she'll shield her son from the evils of the world.

But as the murder investigation draws a blank, the police have to dig deeper - and before long, everyone's lives will be dragged into the light.
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: This is the 7th book in Camilla Lackberg's Fjallbacka/Patrik Hedstrom series and I just love this series. I was quite desperate to pick up this latest installment since the previous book ended with such a cliffhanger and I was not let down - this one picks up right where the last one left off, so everything is resolved and nothing is left hanging for too long. Thank goodness - I certainly didn't want to be left wondering for half the book!

I love getting caught up in the different mysteries and this one featured an island with a ghost story - a bit different and unique, but I did find myself completely wrapped up in it and wondering how it all tied in to the battered women's shelter and the new hotel. It's amazing the way these different threads all work their way together in the end! And once again there is the use of the past and present - I do love when Camilla is able to do that - it just seems to add a little extra to the story!

I continue to love the way Patrik handles his boss, Chief Melberg. It just cracks me up...he really has his number and just knows that if he doesn't give him just the right job, phrasing it just so, they will end up having a huge mess on their hands. It's quite comical, really! But, when it comes to his family life, Melberg really does step up - so I feel like I have this love/hate relationship with him. He's terrible at his job, but he's a giant teddy bear when it comes to his family.

There are so many good things about this series - each case is so intricately plotted and complex, and the character development continues to build with each installment. This is why I love reading series and why I try my best to read them in order whenever I can!
 

Audio thoughts: So it appears that just when I get used to Simon Vance as the narrator, this is the last book he narrates in this series...UGHHH!!!! How incredibly frustrating as a listener! Though I do have to say, I wasn't in love with Simon Vance narrating this series - I still wish the first narrator, David Thorn had continued on - now it appears that Robin Bowerman will be narrating the next 2 books, though they are not available on Audible (to US members at least) at this time. Hopefully they will be soon, as I would like to continue listening to this series...


Anyway, as far as this particular installment goes, Simon Vance did a good job. He was consistent with the voices from the previous book of those characters that continued on and his tone and pacing were good as well. 


 

Books in this series:  
  1. The Ice Princess
  2. The Preacher
  3. The Stonecutter
  4. The Stranger
  5. The Hidden Child
  6. The Drowning
  7. The Lost Boy
  8. Buried Angels
  9. The Ice Child


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Friend Request by Laura Marshall (audio)

Title: Friend Request
Author: Laura Marshall
Narrator: Elaine Claxton
Published: September 2017, Hachette Audio
Length: 11 hours 9 minutes
Source: Publisher

A paranoid single mom is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist. Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn't she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren't. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria's sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she'd severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there's more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what's known to Maria--or whoever's pretending to be her--is known to all.

My thoughts: As soon as I read the summary of this book, I knew I had to to request it...and let me tell you...it was such a great book! I fully admit that while I love social media, I am also quite terrified of it...there is so much unknown about it, so much that we just don't know about who is really on the other side of the "friend" that has befriended us/started following us, etc. It really is quite scary when you start thinking about it...and I don't even have kids to worry about when it comes to using social media!

This book really is such a great social commentary on just how wrong the use of social media can go and how it can be used to torment someone. This is my biggest fear!!! I loved that Laura Marshall takes this and uses it to tell her story - a story that is so brilliantly crafted it just sucks you in, gets under your skin and doesn't let up until you get to the very end. I was so consumed with trying to figure out what was going on that even when I had to put the book down, I was thinking about it. 

While Louise isn't necessarily the most likeable of characters - she alludes to doing something bad to this girl, which I was desperate to find out what! - you do feel a bit of sympathy for her now. How could you not...I think I would be going crazy if I got a Facebook friend request from someone I thought was long dead, wouldn't you? And then to keep getting messages, messages that get a little more threatening each time...I would be going insane! 

Having the story alternate between the present and the past, where we ever-so-slowly get the pieces of what happened to Maria, really just draws you in more and more. Just as the pieces start to come together and you think you know where it's going, something else comes into play to skew everything. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time...this is one twisted story and I really enjoyed it!

For a debut novel, this one really takes the cake and I cannot wait to see what comes next from this author...she is certainly one to keep an eye on.


Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Elaine Claxton and I thought she did a great job with this narration. She was able to give the characters their own unique voices and personalities and she infused just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as needed. There was one little hiccup with the editing, though - the narrator had to clear her throat and then she repeats the beginning of the sentence over again. First time I've ever had that happen in an audio book! Other than that, I thought this was a great book to listen to on audio - I didn't want to stop listening.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

Title: Last Christmas in Paris
Author: Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Published: October 2017, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 40 pages
Source: Publisher
 
New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

My thoughts: As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I am a huge fan of Hazel Gaynor, having read almost all her books and loving them!!! And while I have only read one of Heather Webb's pieces so far - a short story she contributed to an anthology that Hazel was also a part of - I really enjoyed it and enjoyed meeting her in person! So, of course when I heard that this fantastic duo was penning a book together - I knew it was going on my list to read...and what a book it was! I just hope my review will do it justice.

I loved this book - it is both a beautiful love story while at the same time a harrowing depiction of life during the war both on the front line and back home. Told through letters, you really get the sense that you are right there alongside the characters, living through an awful time with them. While most of the letters exchanged are between Evie and Thomas, there are also letters to and from Evie's brother, Evie's best friend Alice, Thomas's father, and Thomas's father's solicitor. 

This story gives you all the feels - it is highly emotional as you live through what it was like to be on the outside while your loved ones were fighting on the front line. The press was not as forth-coming with the true news of what was actually going on, so these letters were giving a much more accurate depiction of what life was really like on the front line.

The writing itself was very intense - I could feel the desperation when Evie didn't hear from Thomas for long periods of time. I could feel Thomas's longing for home and his desperation for this war to be over. But interspersed throughout was a bit of humor and a touch of romance.  It really was very well balanced in this regard.

I loved that this book was written in letter format...it is such a unique way to tell a story, and yet in this instance, it made so much sense. I think by using this format, it really allows for a deeper intimacy to the characters and it shows more vulnerabilities within them. They are literally bearing their souls in these letters at times. It really makes for such a deeper connection with the characters and for a beautiful, yet emotional read. I fully admit I was crying by the end of this book - happy tears, but still tears.

This is one book that I can see myself reaching for to read over and over again - much like my other favorite epistolary novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I have read and reread many times! There is just something about a book told in letter format that gets me...why is it that we don't send hand-written letters anymore? 

 

 

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