General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Forget You Know MeForget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out February 5th!

Forget You Know Me was the opposite of what I expected it to be. After reading Jessica Strawser’s book Not That I Could Tell, which had a strong thriller/mystery quality, I was expecting something similar this time around. The beginning of the book had me on the edge of my seat. Two friends on video chat catching up from hundreds of miles apart. Molly steps away from her computer to attend to a needy child when suddenly a man in a ski mask walks into the house. Liza panics when she sees him enter, and goes into full on freak out mode when he shuts the laptop and leaves her in the dark as to what is happening in the house. Thriller, right? Wrong.

The rest of the book evolved into more of a women’s fiction novel about friendship, marriage, relationship struggles, changes people go through over the course of their lives, guilt, second chances, and more. Just because it wasn’t what I was expecting does not mean I did not enjoy it. In fact, I did. Strawser’s writing is enjoyable, easy to read, and real.

While both of the main characters really irked me (stop making a series of horrible decisions people!), they could have been real people from my life. A wife struggling with her new life as a mother, a husband unhappy in his marriage, a friend feeling like she’s being left behind. It was all very realistic and believable.

I will admit that in the beginning of the book I felt like there were a lot of subplots all going in different directions and I was a bit confused about how they all related. But for the most part, they all intersect nicely along the way. There were perhaps a few places where I didn’t understand the relevance, particularly in Luke and Steph’s portion.

Overall, bravo to Jessica Strawser on another successful novel! I hope to see more from her in the future.

-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Jessica Strawser, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The IdenticalsThe Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first experience with Elin Hilderbrand happened just recently when I read The Perfect Couple and absolutely loved it! So when the library had The Identicals available, I had to download it.

The Identicals is about (you guessed it) identical twins, Tabitha and Harper. Years ago their parents divorced and they each went to live with one parent in Parent Trap fashion. Tabitha lives on Nantucket with her fashion designer mother Eleanor, while Harper lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her father Billy. They haven’t spoken in years. Until Billy passes away and their lives come crashing back together.

The Identicals is a tale about second chances, guilt, redemption, family dynamics, and the love of sisters. While I really enjoyed this book, I feel like it might end up being somewhat forgettable in the mix of all the other books I’ve read this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a stand out for me. I love Elin Hilderbrand’s writing and her ability to transport you to the shores of Nantucket, and this would make wonderful summer reading.

And let’s talk about that cover! Elin’s covers are always stunning and make you want to whip out your bathing suit and sip a margarita poolside.

This is the perfect lighthearted beach read. Put it on your summer reading list!

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General Fiction (Adult), Thriller

The Man She Married by Cathy Lamb

The Man She MarriedThe Man She Married by Cathy Lamb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excuse me but… holy crap!

The first couple chapters of this book hooked me straight off the bat. Dare I say the first few chapters of this book were some of the most exciting first chapters I have ever read? It’s definitely up for debate!

I had no idea what was happening in the most amazing way for the first 30 – 40% of this book. Cathy Lamb came out swinging from the start and continued to keep me engaged all the way through.

The Man She Married begins with Natalie realizing that her husband Zach is not who she thought he was. His name is really Devon and he is a murderer (P.S. this is NOT a spoiler because you learn this information in the first 5 minutes). He warns Natalie that they need to run because somebody is after them. Natalie runs all right…. right away from Zach/Devon. And BAM! Somebody slams into her car, sending her into a “locked-in” type coma. Much of the first part of the book is told from Natalie’s perspective while she’s in her coma which was borderline genius. And kind of hilarious at times. Cathy Lamb was able to take a subject which is so serious and inject little bits of humor which were gold.

I won’t say anymore about the plot because that’s half the fun of this book…. discovering what happens next. But I will say there are lots of surprises along the way.

I really enjoyed this book overall. The writing itself was five stars. It was super entertaining and held my attention from start to finish. There were some elements of the plot that I didn’t find particularly relevant (most of the story surrounding Natalie’s best friends to be honest) which could have probably been removed entirely without affecting the outcome of the story. While I enjoyed the characters, I felt like the book realistically could have been shorter and more concise if some of the extraneous plot line was edited out.

That’s me being extremely picky though. It was a fantastic thriller/fiction and totally worth the read. If you’re looking for a gripping, heart-pounding, humor-infused, well-written fiction novel, this is the book for you.

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General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

The Husband HourThe Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I won this book in a giveaway many months ago and I absolutely try my hardest when I have time between ARCs (advanced reader copies) to read and review my giveaway books. The publishers and authors don’t just give them away for them to sit on your bookshelf unread. The hope is that you will read it, review it, and spread the word. So here I am (albeit a little late considering this was published in April 2018) but better late than never!

This was my first time reading Jamie Brenner. It won’t be my last.

Even though it is December, this is the perfect summer read. I was transported to the beaches of the Jersey Shore and loved living in that world for a bit.

The Husband Hour is the story of Lauren, the widow of an NHL star and American military hero, who moves to her family’s summer home to get out of the spotlight of being the “famous widow.” She needs to be alone to think, to recover, to grieve. But years later when twenty-something-year-old Lauren is still living the life of a hermit, her mother decides she will come to the beach house to spend the summer with her (along with her father and her estranged sister). Meanwhile, Matt Brio, a documentary filmmaker is looking to tell the story of Rory Kincaid and has been trying to track down his widow for years. When he finally finds her holed up at the Jersey Shore he descends upon the town on a mission for a story.

This book is truly a book about family dynamics, relationships, heartbreak, regret, guilt, redemption, grief, and forgiveness. It was really interesting and I enjoyed how Jamie Brenner weaved all the elements of the family together.

There were a few times throughout the book where I felt like it could have been 50 pages shorter. It didn’t feel that long, but there were several chapters where I knew where the book was headed and I was willing it to get there. The big “shocker” of the book in particular could be seen coming for about 50 pages before it was really divulged, which may have taken away a bit of its shock value. That being said, the twist was incredibly well thought out and was definitely the most integral and intriguing element of the story, so even though it took a little while to fully unfold, it was worth the wait.

I would definitely read Jamie Brenner’s work again. It reminded me of one of my favorites, Kristy Woodson Harvey, who writes the Peachtree Bluff series (Slightly South of Simple and The Secret to Southern Charm). So if you’re fans of Harvey’s work, The Husband Hour would be a good choice for you.

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General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The DreamersThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out January 15th!

Ok folks. Here is your first great read of 2019 so add it to your lists and hold onto your hats!

If you are at all interested in stories about pandemics/outbreaks/diseases taking over the planet, this book will be your new best friend. I have always had an interest in books, movies, and TV shows about pandemics. Think Contagion, The Walking Dead, The Crazies, World War Z. Ok… they don’t always have to be about zombies. But the idea that there is a patient zero and this sickness spreads like wildfire throughout a community has always amazed me. Because it could happen (and already has…. can you say Ebola? Zika? The list goes on). And the strategies we would have to take to contain the spread are also fascinating. I digress.

The Dreamers is a unique pandemic story that tells the tale of a sleep-inducing sickness that spreads throughout a small town in California. It starts quietly in a college dorm and slowly spreads throughout the whole town. The townspeople who are affected fall into an unwakeable sleep. Those who are lucky enough to be discovered will be tended to in the increasingly overcrowded hospital. Those who succumb to the sickness alone will die of dehydration. Nobody knows the cause of this sudden outbreak, but soon the residents of Santa Lora will find themselves in “quarantine,” forbidden from leaving the infected town.

The story follows several different townspeople as they try to weather the storm, fend to stay alive, and plan their next move. Their stories weave together beautifully.

My heart was thumping throughout this entire book. I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours because I just could not wait to see what happened next. There was the perfect amount of tension, expertly crafted by Karen Thompson Walker. Several of the individual stories paused at just the right cliffhanger to leave me wanting more.

The ending was quite beautiful, and I loved the philosophical messages it sent. I have a feeling the end will not be everybody’s cup of tea just because it is not black and white and doesn’t give concrete answers to some of the questions presented throughout the book. But I think that’s the beautiful part. Just enough was left up to interpretation, and every reader will take home a different message.

This book would be a really great read for anybody who enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It comes highly recommended from me with five big stars.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Thompson Walker, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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