Book Reviews

Book Review: The 27 Club by Alexandria Bishop

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The 27 Club has a very interesting premise. It sort of reminded me of the movie 13 Going on 30 with a dark, paranormal twist. I went in blind with zero knowledge about the meaning of the title, and this made for a really cool aha moment when I realized what was going on. So if you’ve never heard of The 27 Club, I suggest not looking it up until you read this book!

The first ten chapters or so detail Erika Takai’s horrible birthday experiences, year after year. I have to admit, all of her “bad luck” put me in a funk, and I kept wondering when things were going to get better for her. Well, when that moment arrives, it isn’t what it seems, and her newfound good fortune has a price. At that point, I didn’t want to stop reading until I knew what Erika’s fate would be.

If you enjoy new adult books with paranormal elements that explore fate and second chances, then you might enjoy this one.

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*Thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Reviews

Book Review: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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When I heard All the Missing Girls was being compared to The Girl on the Train, I just had to read it. After all, I love suspenseful psychological thrillers. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to the comparison, but I still liked it for other reasons.

One unique, yet confusing, quality of this book is that much of it is told in reverse order. It starts out in the present, with Nicolette (Nic) returning to her hometown to help sell her father’s house after being away for ten years. Going home is difficult for her due to the reason she left in the first place: Her best friend Corrine disappeared without a trace and the case was never solved. Right after she arrives at her childhood home and visits her senile father, the story is catapulted forward two weeks. And that’s when things became hard for me to follow.

Over the course of the two weeks (told in reverse), another girl disappears, and everyone is wondering if it has anything to do with Corrine’s disappearance. Well, here’s a SPOILER for you…the disappearances are related, just not in the way you will most likely think they are.

Two things All the Missing Girls does have in common with The Girl on the Train is that it has an intricately woven plotline, and there are a few twists and turns–none nearly as shocking as those in The Girl on the Train, but surprising nonetheless.

Despite the misleading title (there are really only two missing girls) and the confusing reverse order narration, I liked the story and appreciate the way Miranda brought everything together in the end. Honestly, I might have liked it more had the comparison bar not been set so high.

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Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Swoon by CM Foss

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Swoon is about Steph and Lawrence, a pair who are wildly attracted to one another.

“Swoon. Gulp. Swulp?”

They flirt, they joke around, and they really seem to get each other, so you’ll find yourself rooting for them to be together. But Foss doesn’t make it that easy. Instead she throws in all sorts of issues related to timing, emotional baggage and life in general, making it a realistic account of how it sometimes takes a person a long time to finally end up with that special someone she should have been with all along.

Things I love about this book:

1) There’s zero instalove. Steph’s best friend marries Lawrence’s best friend, so they’ve known each other for a while. They’ve hung out with each other. They like each other. Heck, they’ve even hooked up before. But at no point do things just click, and BOOM, happily ever after. It’s a slow process of increasing attraction and admiration with many ups and downs.

2) There’s a role reversal, which is atypical of most romance novels that include someone who flakes out about commitment. Usually it’s the guy, but in this story, Steph is the one who’s hesitant. I really like this because men are generally stereotyped as being commitment-phobes.

3) The ending made me smile. It was perfect.

“I fell for you years ago, and I’ve never really gotten back up.”

Swoon is the second book I’ve read by CM Foss and it won’t be the last. I love her witty humor and the way she infuses her experiences with horses and farm life into her stories. If you like HEAs and strong, independent heroines you need to check out her books!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Craze (Pierce Securities Book 1) by Anne Conley

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Craze is the third Anne Conley book I’ve read, and I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan. While The Fixer Upper, Craze, and Wire are all heavy on the romance, fans of other genres (suspense, humor, general women’s fiction) are likely to be satisfied too.

When Krista catches her boss in a compromising position, her world is turned upside down. To make matters worse, her boss has a powerful accomplice who will stop at nothing to make sure Krista tells no one what she witnessed. Knowing that her safety is on the line, she flees and does her best to disappear. But her plans are thwarted when her boss hires Pierce Securities to track her down. Enter Coast Guard veteran Ryan, the muscle behind Pierce, who’s tasked with finding her. And that’s where the romance comes into play.

I really enjoyed the shift that occurs when Ryan goes from tracking Krista to protecting her. And I liked all the details related to how the Pierce boys all have their roles to play in figuring out exactly what the boss is involved in.

Conley’s writing style is smooth and easy, yielding a quick, enjoyable read. The characters are well drawn, and she really had me pulling for the H and h. But at the same time, she had my stomach in knots over what the bad guys had done and their individual plans for Krista.

If you’re looking for a solid series of books that can be read as standalones, I highly recommend Conley’s Pierce Securities boys. Starting with Craze!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Fishing Hole by Hillary DeVisser

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Newly divorced Jesse moves back to her hometown for a fresh start. However, with three sons in tow, romance isn’t a top priority for her. But life is full of surprises, so before you know it, she finds herself involved with two men from her past: her high school sweetheart and an old acquaintance. To make things even more complicated, she has to deal with her asshole ex-husband.

I liked Jesse’s independent nature, her subtle sense of humor, and the way she didn’t fall head-over-heels for either of the guys. I also liked the way she dealt with her ex, never allowing him to get the best of her and setting a good example for her kids. As for the men, I was satisfied with the development of her relationship with Levi, but I wish there had been more about the situation with Cole. In other words, I’m a fan of flawed characters and drama, so I wish Cole had played a bigger role. Regardless, this was a sweet contemporary romance with small town flair and several tastefully done sex scenes.

I’m curious about what DeVisser has in store for the next installment in the Coal Country series!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: An Unforgivable Love Story by B.L. Berry

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Compelling. Unique. Suspenseful. Tragic. Infuriating.

An Unforgivable Love Story is all of these things and more. And the title is spot-on. The actions of two of the main characters (one more so than the other) are UNFORGIVABLE! Miraculously, Berry had me sympathizing with one of them. There’s a third key character, too, whose obliviousness broke my heart.

“He will always be my Simon. My unintended. My favorite, most hated mistake.”

The topic of this story–the BIG reveal–is nothing new, but the way Berry tackles it is brilliant. Early on, I thought I knew where things were headed, and I was right. But not entirely. You see, the key to the uniqueness of this novel is a result of the narrative angles Berry chose. I never expected the shift in narration between part one and part two. It blew my mind, and I found myself flipping back and forth to reread coinciding or related events. And then there’s part four. Oh my. It was fascinating (and unsettling at times) to compare the motivations and perceived realities of these three individuals.

I know people who have been in the shoes of all three of these characters, but I’ve never been close to ALL involved parties in a situation like this. And because of that, I’ve been left with only half or a third of the story or perceived truth. This book is a good reminder that sometimes the most deplorable actions can be viewed as unavoidable or even necessary in the eyes of the offender. It’s also a good reminder that people and relationships aren’t always who or what they appear to be.

Anyone who’s familiar with my reading tastes knows how much I enjoy flawed characters and depressing, messed up situations that mirror real life. This book did not disappoint! There was so much honesty and reality within the pages of this book. And the writing? Perfection. B.L. Berry is a must-read author.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Shelter by Jung Yun

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Shelter is a well-constructed, slow-paced novel that focuses on one family’s painful secrets and the tragic event that forces truths to be revealed. It’s also about forgiveness (wanting it and denying it), pride, resentment, and regret.

I love flawed characters, and this book did not disappoint. There’s Kyung, son of Jin and Mae, who’s a miserable shell of a person. His terrible attitude toward, well…everything, drove me nuts at first. But as I learned about his parents’ relationship and his upbringing, I began to feel sorry for him. This does not mean I didn’t still dislike him and the way he treated his wife and son, but I understood why he is the way he is. I can’t say much about Jin’s and Mae’s flaws without giving away why Kyung is so messed up, but their missteps as parents made me sad. Perhaps this is a horrible thing to say, but part of me felt like the tragic thing that happened to them was a bit karmic.

If you like fast-paced novels with a lot of WOW moments, this might not be the best choice for you. And if you want to read something that will leave you feeling cheery, you might want to hold off on reading this one. But if you enjoy a well-written piece of literary fiction that unfolds steadily and don’t mind a sad (yet slightly hopeful) ending, then this might be the book for you.

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*Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: City Beautiful by CM Foss

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City Beautiful offers a captivating mix of romance, humor and drama, and there are even a few moments that had me on the edge of my seat dying to know what was going to happen.

The first third of this book is about how Patrick (a successful young doctor) meets Ivy (a somewhat reclusive farmer/bed and breakfast owner). While Patrick is road tripping from Texas to New York, he finds himself forced to make an unintended pit stop. This is when he meets Ivy and becomes enamored by her and her slow-paced country lifestyle. During this portion of the book, I found myself thinking, “What a nice, sweet romance with a touch of sass.” I thought I knew where things were headed, but then…BOOM. A twist! That’s when my attention was really piqued.

Foss did a great job of giving each character a distinct personality. I really liked Patrick and Ivy individually, but when they were together…I loved them. The other characters were all equally as likable, even Stacy due to her entertainment value.

The writing is smooth, and the dialogue is free-flowing, realistic and often laugh-out-loud funny. The conversations between Patrick and his sister were so funny and spot-on when it comes to the way some siblings communicate. And then there were the conversations between Ivy and her best friend Emily-hilarious! I never once had the urge to skim during any of the dialogue because I didn’t want to miss one witty or sarcastic comment.

The title of this book is one of my favorites as far as meaning is concerned. It warms my heart to think about the significance of it. I look forward to reading more books by CM Foss!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

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The Passenger is perfect for readers who enjoy a good mystery. However, if you prefer concrete clues that help you piece together a book’s big reveal, then this one might make you antsy.

Tanya Dubois aka Amelia Keen aka Debra Maze aka Emma Lark aka Sonia Lubovich (these are just some of the names she goes by throughout the story) has been hiding from law enforcement for a decade. Why does she keep assuming the identities of other women? That’s exactly what I was dying to know and trying to figure out all the way up until chapter 28. In fact, I’m pretty certain most who read this one will be left guessing as well.

Here are some of the thoughts I had while reading:

  • Who is this woman?
  • If she didn’t do it, then why doesn’t she just call the cops?
  • Wait, that’s not why she’s on the run? Why then?
  • Who is this Ryan guy? Why is he keeping tabs on her? Why would it be bad for him if she gave herself up? Why would he send her money?
  • Is this new friend of hers the passenger?
  • Wait, maybe he’s the passenger.
  • Okay, this lady definitely has to be the passenger.
  • Who the heck is the passenger?

When I finally realized who “The Passenger” is, everything clicked into place and I completely understood the MC’s motives. I also understood her pain.

Despite the occasional irritation I felt while wracking my brain trying to figure out what was going on, I really enjoyed this book. After all, Lutz is a great storyteller. The way she toggled between describing the MC’s life on the run and her real life (past and present) was remarkable. And all the while, she managed to provide small pieces of the puzzle, which made little sense up until the big reveal when every last tidbit locked into place, leaving me 100% satisfied.

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Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary review copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

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Much like The Girl on the Train, which is also a mystery that unravels through alternating perspectives, I was mesmerized by Try Not to Breathe. As in glued to the pages until the very last word mesmerized.

Brutally attacked as a teen, Amy has been confined to a hospital bed for fifteen years. She thinks and dreams, breathes on her own and hears what’s going on around her; however, she can’t talk. And even though her eyes are open, she doesn’t see anyone because she’s trapped inside her own head. Who’s responsible for Amy’s condition? That’s what I was dying to know throughout the entire novel!

Seddon expertly toggled between multiple perspectives to tell Amy’s story. There’s Amy, of course, whose narration dates back to the day she was attacked all the way up to the day her attacker is revealed. I have never encountered a narrator like Amy before. At times I was confused because she was confused, but then after processing what it might be like for someone who’s in a coma-like state with self-inflicted amnesia (for lack of a better term), I found myself in awe of the way Seddon presented Amy’s perspective. Wow. Just brilliant. Then there’s Alex, an alcoholic who’s trying to crawl her way back to being the respected reporter she once was, and Jacob, a man who sits and talks to Amy regularly.

If you’re a suspense junkie like me, then I highly recommend Try Not to Breathe.

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*Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.