Book Review Roundup: February

I can’t believe it’s already the end of February!  I managed to read and review a lot more books this month and have included them all below.  About half are thrillers but the rest range from chick lit to fiction.

  1. The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  2. My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  3. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  4. The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt (review here) (rating: 3 out of 5 stars)
  5. This is Not Over by Holly Brown (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  6. The Wonder by Emily Donoghue (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  7. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  8. I See You by Clare Mackintosh (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)

Did you read any good books this month?  Be sure to leave a recommendation in the comments!

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After reading, I Let You Go, about a month ago, I couldn’t wait to read Mackintosh’ February release, I See You.  Her newest book has the same level of suspense and eerie vibe as her last and drew me in to the story from the beginning.

Like many of us, Zoe Walker has a daily routine and follows the same pattern day in and day out.  What she doesn’t realize, is someone is monitoring that routine and keeping track of where she goes.  Once Zoe learns someone is stalking her, she discovers other women are being targeted as well, and many have been victims of violent crimes.  Zoe races to discover who is following her, before she becomes a victim herself.

I really liked the plot and female characters in this book.  My favorite character was Kelly, the police officer investigating the string of stalkings.  Despite having suffered a setback in her career, Kelly stays determined to get assigned Zoe’s case and find the perpetrator.  She does what she thinks is right, even when it could land her in the hot seat with her boss.  I liked how she was a bit of a flawed character who grew as the story progressed.

I tried to guess who might be behind the crimes but was completely surprised by who it was!  My favorite thrillers are ones where I’m not able to predict who the criminal is or how the book will conclude.  Similar to Mackintosh’ last book, there was an unexpected twist at the very end of the book – and it was so good!

Have any of you read this book yet?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

 

Book Review: It End with Us by Colleen Hoover

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“No one is exclusively bad, nor is anyone exclusively good. Some are just forced to work harder at suppressing the bad.”
― Colleen HooverIt Ends with Us

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Oh wow, this book was so many things.  Raw, emotional and most of all, real.  I went in knowing it was about a dysfunctional relationship and not much else.  I was expecting a plotline similar to many of the thrillers I’m a fan of.  Instead, it was a much more realistic portrayal of abusive relationships and the many layers they consist of.

I won’t go too much into the plot because I think it’s better to go in knowing as little as possible.  The author dedicated the book to her mother and father and wrote the storyline around the type of relationship they had during the time they were married.  The main character, Lily, is based on her mother.  Hoover makes a great case about the stigma and judgement surrounding abuse.  While many people may feel sympathy for the victim, they often can’t understand why they would stay in a relationship when someone is hurting them.  Hoover answers this question, by sharing Lily’s story.

I loved Lily’s character and her strength.  Growing up in an abusive home, she told herself she would never get in a situation like the one her mother was in with her father.  As she becomes an adult and enters her own relationship, she realizes things aren’t always as black and white as they appear on the outside looking in.  I loved the quote one of the characters uses, “There is no such thing as bad people.  We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”  This resonated with me so much and helped me relate to Lily’s character and what she went through.  I loved how the author didn’t portray the male character as the stereotypical evil partner but instead showed the many different sides of his personality.  It’s not as easy as saying someone is simply good or bad.  This story revealed the gray area that can be present in situations such as this one and why it isn’t always an easy choice to stay or leave an abusive relationship.  In Hoover’s acknowledgement at the end of the book, I related to her feelings of wanting to rewrite certain scenes and depict the male character differently.  I would have felt the same way.  I appreciated the painfully honest way she ended up portraying his character and the inability to categorize him as one thing is one of the reasons I loved this story.

It Ends with Us is a powerful book and a beautiful depiction of a difficult subject.  Have any of you read it?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Thank you for stopping by the blog!

Book Review: The Wonder by Emily Donoghue

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Genre: Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I want to start out by saying this book is totally different from most I normally read – and I loved it!  My typical picks tend to lean towards thrillers or mysteries and this one is historical fiction.

The story takes place in the 1800’s and follows a nurse’s quest to discover the truth.  The nurse, Lib, travels from England to Ireland for a two week job overseeing an eleven year old girl, Anna.  Anna claims to have not eaten in four months and her family backs up these claims.  Lib is sure the girl and/or her family is lying and is determined to catch Anna sneaking food.  As she begins to spend more time with Anna, she becomes increasingly worried about her health.  Her hands and feet are swollen, her skin scaly and her temperature increasingly low.  As her health continues to decline, Lib becomes more desperate than ever to get to the bottom of whether the girl is truly eating or not.

The author’s writing style was smooth and kept me interested from beginning to end.  The vivid descriptions sucked me into the story and made me feel like I was right in the middle or Ireland.  I really liked Lib and Anna’s characters and the relationship they formed.  Although Lib was hesitant to grow attached to Anna, she couldn’t help but connect with her as they spent more time together.  As the story progressed, I had no idea whether Lib would discover that Anna had been eating all along or if she truly was the “wonder” her family claimed her to be.

This was a great read and I will be sure to keep an eye out for future books from this author.  On another note, I’m starting I See You by Clare Mackintosh today and I’m excited to see if it meets up to all the hype!

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Book Review: This is Not Over by Holly Brown

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets…

Miranda

When Dawn and her husband return from renting a vacation home, she is shocked to receive an email from their host, Miranda, letting her know she is withholding half of their deposit.  Miranda insists the couple left a stain on the sheets so she will need to deduct $200 of the $400 deposit to replace them.  Dawn knows they didn’t leave the stain – and is furious that Miranda is trying to extort money from them.  What starts as a series of heated emails between the two, escalates into a full blown war.

This is Not Over is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year.  It was so so good.  Although I questioned whether I would end up rooting for Dawn or Miranda, I wound up rooting for both of them in different ways.  Dawn and Miranda are completely different from one another but both deal with extremely difficult issues.  Both struggle to improve their current situations but neither one can figure out how to do that.  They look for love and validation in the wrong places and turn on one another as a way to vent their frustrations at the world and people that have done them wrong.  I really liked the way the author revealed the women’s layered personalities and showed that – like all of us – neither one is all good or all bad.

This book was an emotional roller coaster and a story I will remember long after I’ve finished it.  Have any of you read it?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Book Review: The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Dahlia Waller spent her childhood moving from town to town with her mother.  She never knew the reason for the moves or where they would end up next.  As an adult, Dahlia finds herself living a similar life to the one her mother led.  She doesn’t have any personal paperwork (social security card or birth certificate) so it’s impossible for her to settle down in a stable job or home.  Tired of struggling through life, she decides to return to her home town and finally get answers from her mother about why they spent years on the run.

I had mixed feelings about this one!  First, I’ll go through the things I liked about the book.  I really enjoyed the plot and was interested to learn more about Dahlia’s childhood and the reasoning behind her mother’s decisions.  I also liked the chapters that were told from Dahlia’s mother’s point of view and understood her character a little better because of them.  Some aspects of the book reminded me a little of Jenny Milchman’s books – which I am a fan of.  I liked how it was a little unclear whether supernatural elements were occurring or if there was a logical explanation behind them.

While I liked the characters and overall plot, I wasn’t a fan of the side story.  I kept hoping this part of the book would somehow connect with the main plot but it didn’t have anything to do with it.  The transitions from character to character weren’t as smooth as they could have been and I would have preferred to read chapters that consistently alternated between Dahlia and her mother’s points of view.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and would be interested in reading more by this author in the future.  If you’re looking for a traditional, fast paced thriller, this probably isn’t the book for you but if you’re interested in trying out something different, I would recommend it!

 

Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Genre: Chick Lit

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’m a huge Sophie Kinsella fan and her latest, My Not So Perfect Life, was just the feel-good read I was looking for.

Since Katie was a little girl, she dreamed of moving from her small country home town to London.  At twenty six, she’s made the move and is working for a cutting edge branding company but her life is far from perfect.  She lives in a tiny flat, has an excruciatingly long commute and envies her boss’s charmed life.  In her eyes, her boss is everything she hopes to one day be – fashionable, successful and wealthy.  But things aren’t always as they seem and when Katie is suddenly let go from her job, she begins to realize how deceiving appearances can be.

In my opinion, no one does chick lit like Sophie Kinsella.  I loved Katie’s character and thought a lot of her challenges were relatable to today’s times.  The job market is so competitive and I empathized with her when she struggled to find a new job after being fired.  I also really liked Katie’s step-mom, Biddy.  She was so supportive of both Katie and Katie’s dad and turned out to be a really talented business woman.  Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Katie’s boss, Demeter, at the beginning of the story, I ended up really liking her by the end.  While romance did play a part in the story, the main plot centers around Katie finding her place in both the workforce and her own skin.

This was another winner by Sophie Kinsella and I recommend it to any chick lit lovers!

 

Book Review: My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I went into this book without knowing much about the plot and it made the book that much better!  My Husband’s Wife was just released January 31 and I’m already looking forward to the author’s next book, Blood Sisters, coming out this summer.

The story is told from the points of view of Lily and Carla, whose lives become intertwined over a span of more than sixteen years.  The two first meet as next door neighbors when Lily is a twenty something newlywed and Carla is nine years old.  Lily is working on a daunting murder case that could make or break her career as a lawyer and Carla is struggling with fitting in at school.  Sixteen years later, Lily and Carla are in much different places in life but become connected once again.  Their reunion leads to disastrous consequences and causes both of their lives to spiral out of control.

Lily and Carla are complex characters and have many different layers to their personalities.  Although Lily is in her twenties and Carla is still a child when the story begins, they are both at naive and vulnerable points in their lives.  As the story progresses, Lily and Carla develop hardened exteriors and aren’t as trusting of the world as they once were.

I felt so bad for Carla as a child and the terrible bullying she endured at school.  Her mother was often preoccupied with her relationship with a married man, leaving Carla feeling left out and lonely.  She was taught to use her beauty to obtain the things she wanted and that the most important thing in life was finding a rich man.  As Carla grows older, it’s easy to see that some of her actions are a result of the way she was raised.  I’m glad the author introduced Carla’s character during her childhood so that it was easier to understand her decisions later on in life.

This was a great book that kept my interest from beginning to end.  I highly recommend this one!

Blog Feature: The Suspense is Thrilling Me

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As you can probably tell from most of my book reviews, my favorite genre is thrillers!  I love anything that involves mystery and unexpected twists.  Recently, I came across the book blog, The Suspense is Thrilling Me, and have found so many great recommendations and reviews on this site.  The reviews aren’t all on thrillers but a lot of them do fall in that genre as well as, mysteries and police procedurals.  I’ve found so many great books on this blog including, The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn, Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen and You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott.

If you enjoy thrillers or book reviews, I recommend checking this one out!

Book Review Roundup: January

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Here’s a quick roundup of the books I reviewed throughout January.  There are a few others I read and haven’t gotten a change to review yet, but will post them throughout February.

  1. Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (review here) (rating: 5 out of 5 stars)
  2. Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (review here) (rating: 4 out of 5 stars)
  3. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (review here) (5 out of 5 stars)
  4. Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard (review here) (rating: 2 out of 5 stars)

Did you read any good books in January?  If so, be sure to leave a comment!