SPIN

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“A somber but meritorious tale that profoundly examines a subject affecting adolescents and adults alike . . . Farnham masterfully dramatizes the serious subject matter.” Kirkus Reviews

“A beautifully written, suspenseful and poignant page-turner.” – E.S. Carter, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Spin is a pacey, edgy read which immediately grabbed me; a compulsive page-turner.” – Sarah L. King, Author of Ethersay

“I couldn’t put it down . . . gripping and suspenseful.” – Cathy, Goodreads Reviewer

“It covers heavy topics which are very prominent in current society and will send anybody on an emotional roller coaster.” – Kayla, Goodreads Reviewer

“A true reminder of how you have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors, or behind people’s facades.” – Sophie Ruthven, Amazon Reviewer

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

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A friend recommended this one to me. When I asked her what it was about, she didn’t want to give anything away but said something about the family and situation being messed up. Now that I’ve read it, I concur. Extremely. Messed. Up. But I didn’t want to put it down, and it’s one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

The Light of the Fireflies is well-crafted with elements of mystery and suspense. At first, it reminded me of ROOM by Emma Donoghue because much of the book is told from the perspective of a young boy who’s lived his entire life in a confined space without contact from the outside world. He’s oblivious to the lies he’s been told by family members and about what exists beyond the walls of their residence, but he eventually begins questioning the way they live and trying to piece things together. Unfortunately, certain members of his family are not what they seem, which impedes his road to discovery.

Pen is a fabulous writer. He pieced together every little detail of this story just right, so I never felt confused or lost. All I felt was intrigued, desperate for answers and emotionally invested in finding out what would happen to the boy.

If you are a fan of suspense and realistically flawed characters who make horrible mistakes, then I highly recommend The Light of the Fireflies.

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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.

AMAZON

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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: 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: 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.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Amicable Divorce by Marla Bradeen

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“Divorce is like apple pie. It’s the American way of life.”

As expected from a novel categorized as chick lit, The Amicable Divorce was light and humorous. And to my surprise, it offered more than just a good laugh because the plotline was laced with mystery.

Out of nowhere and without sufficient explanation, Vanessa’s husband Brian announces he wants a divorce. As a result, Vanessa is left to figure out where things went wrong with the help of her thrice-divorced sister Beth. When Beth convinces Vanessa that Brian is having an affair, Vanessa is compelled to investigate.

The story flows nicely from chapter to chapter and is told from Vanessa’s POV. Her sarcastic, slightly bumbling personality is funny and paved the way for humorous dialogue. However, as amusing as Vanessa’s inner dialogue is, I found myself skimming those parts at times because I wanted to get back to the plotline. Bradeen certainly knows how to piece together a cozy mystery.

If you’re looking for light-hearted chick lit and a flawed heroine who comes out on top in the end, then this one might be right up your alley.

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AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part Two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Immediately after I finished Never Never part one, I purchased part two. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t immediate. I did spend a few seconds lamenting the fact that it was over and then another few seconds cursing the authors for making me buy the next part to find out WTH is going on, but part two was definitely on my Kindle within 30 seconds. That’s how good part one is.

Here I am, 12 hours later, writing my review. And if I didn’t have kids, I would have written it six hours ago.

Never Never part two picks up exactly where part one leaves off, with Silas as the narrator. Not a beat was skipped–not for us anyway. But for Silas and Charlie, they are pretty much back to square one with trying to figure out why they are suffering from memory loss. They’re also faced with an additional obstacle; they’re separated in this book! (Boooo!) So Silas is forced to work alone to discover more pieces to the puzzle.

I must admit that I was even more miffed when this one ended than I was with part one, partly because I need to buy yet another book to find out what’s going on and partly because I have to wait until next year. 😦

I love these characters (even Charlie who can be kinda bitchy at times), and I’m crossing my fingers hoping for a happily ever after for them.

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AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part One by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Over the last couple of years, I’ve purchased several Colleen Hoover books for my Kindle. The funny thing is, the more I kept hearing about them, the less urgency I felt to read them. Sometimes I’m just weird like that–not in a hurry to check out whatever is trending. Big mistake this time–HUGE–because this book is brilliant, and I have no doubt I will enjoy the rest of Hoover’s (and Fisher’s) books. Why did I wait so long to jump on the CoHo bandwagon?!

I love a good mystery, so Never Never sucked me in from the get-go. It begins with a disoriented Charlie who has no clue where she is or who she is. She quickly realizes that she’s a high school student and must go about her day gathering info (such as her own name) from fellow classmates in hopes of understanding the haze of confusion she’s under. Things become even more interesting when Charlie realizes she’s not alone. Silas, her apparent boyfriend, seems to be suffering from the same inexplicable memory loss. From that point on, Charlie and Silas know they have to work together to figure out what’s going on.

This story is fast-paced and written in a way that made me feel like I was watching a movie. Now that’s good writing. Pieces of the puzzle are expertly revealed via the alternating perspectives of Charlie and Silas. Not only was I dying to find out what has caused the couple to lose their memories, but I also wanted so badly to know the status of their relationship. You see, they’re a couple, yet they aren’t. What’s even more intriguing is that their relationship seems to be tied to whatever has caused the memory loss.

Now, even if I was one to share spoilers, I wouldn’t be able to in this case because you have to buy parts two and three to find out exactly what’s going on! And that’s the only gripe I have with Never Never. It ends with the worst possible cliffhanger EVER! Or maybe worst isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say best because I one-clicked part 2 immediately.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense and young, rapturous love (and don’t mind cliffhangers that require you to purchase subsequent parts to find out what happens), I highly recommend Never Never.

Memorable Quotes:

“Her eyes are like two open books and I suddenly want to devour every page.”

“It’s strange how money seems to silence a neighborhood.”

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AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Madeleine’s Kiss by Peter Gilboy

As a huge fan of suspense, the prologue of this book hooked me. College professor Adam Snow is in jail awaiting a jury verdict. He is suspected of murdering Madeleine, a mysterious young woman whom he met just days prior to her disappearance. Through a series of journal entries, he recounts their bizarre relationship–from the day they met to the moment she disappeared. Even though the facts against Snow are very incriminating, his side of the story clearly proves that he had nothing to do with what happened to her. Or did he?

This book has a unique layout. Each chapter heading features a famous painting, the number of days the jury has been in deliberation, and the time of day. Each painting is mentioned (and sometimes analyzed) in its corresponding chapter. I’m not very knowledgeable about art, but I enjoyed looking at the paintings and thought it was clever the way they were woven into the story.

Something I noted while reading was that the writing is smooth. I’ll also add that Gilboy’s style is unique and quite witty at times.

“Chance is a pseudonym God uses when He doesn’t want to leave His real name. But if that is so, then God isn’t merciful or reasonable or farsighted as the nuns said. God is a bully who plays with lives like other people play with dice. He gives us births and deaths and accidents and lovers and even terrible earthquakes, and then God watches close up to see how we’ll react. If God were human, He would be in therapy or jail.”

In addition to details about his relationship with Madeleine (and his odd attraction to her), Snow recalls many childhood memories. The back and forth nature of his narration (from Madeleine to his childhood) was not at all confusing for me. However, there are paranormal and spiritual aspects to this story that threw me for a loop and ultimately left me feeling disappointed at the end. I just didn’t know what to think. What happened to Madeleine?!

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AMAZON

 

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