General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

BethlehemBethlehem by Karen Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out July 9th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Bravo to my fellow Vanderbilt graduate, Karen Kelly, on a beautifully written novel!

This one is a sweeping family drama that takes place over several generations. In this way, it reminded me of Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter or Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book, both of which I adored. So I’m happy to be able to add Bethlehem to these incredible titles.

A woman and her family move into her husband’s family home to watch over his mother and grandmother after his father passes away. And family secrets will be revealed as the past is uncovered. I’m hesitant to give any more of a synopsis because you need to read this one for yourself to appreciate Karen Kelly’s storytelling.

The one thing that was a tad difficult for me was getting all of the names and relationships straight for the first 20% or so of the book. But, there is a really nice family tree drawn in the front of the book that helped me get everything straight. Once I had a handle on the family relationships and dynamics, it was smooth sailing the rest of the book.

I would highly recommend if you tend to like sweeping family dramas!

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Kelly, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Humor, Mystery

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m a little bit late to the party on this one since it published in 2012 but I’ve been wanting to read it for a while so I was excited when I was able to get ahold of it from the library.

If you’re looking for something fun, quirky, unique, different, and in its own wheelhouse, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is the perfect choice.

Bernadette’s daughter Bee wants to go on a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette is still adjusting to living the life she never wanted in Seattle, Washington and may be on the verge of a mental breakdown. And when Bernadette disappears, Bee is forced to weave together clues to where her mother has gone.

Told in the form of emails, letters, memos, transcripts, the format was ultimately the best and worst thing about this book. I am always a sucker for authors who write in a unique format other than strictly prose. I love the level of creativity. And I think I would have enjoyed this book’s format a lot more if I had read it rather than listened to the audio. Because on audio it did become a tad hard to follow.

But, that being said, the narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite, was one of the most fabulous narrators I’ve ever heard. She totally did the characters justice in voice, personality, and spirit. So even though the format made the audio version challenging, the narrator made up for it in storytelling.

At times, I did struggle to understand how all the pieces of the story fit together and flowed. And while it did come together in the end, there were portions of the book where I found myself zoning out because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. That being said, I think if I were to read it again, I would probably appreciate it much more than the first time around.

Ultimately, although my numeric rating is on the lower side, I would still highly recommend reading this book just for the experience. It’s a gem.

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Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Her Deadly Secrets by Laura Griffin

Her Deadly Secrets (Wolfe Security, #2)Her Deadly Secrets by Laura Griffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out July 2nd! Pre-order from Amazon here!

I just love Laura Griffin. The mystery/thriller/romance genre that she writes in is so unique from all the other thrillers I read and I always enjoy her stories. I won a copy of Desperate Girls last year in a Goodreads giveaway (the first book in this series) and absolutely fell in love. So I knew I had to read the next in the series, Her Deadly Secrets.

This cover speaks to me so much. I think it’s fantastic and really draws your eye in. Every time I see the cover for this book I do a double take because it’s pretty breathtaking.

But beyond the cover, the story itself is wonderful. Wolfe Security is enlisted to protect a private investigator whose life is in danger. She was hired by a prominent physician’s defense team to investigate a case in which he’s accused of murdering his wife. But when they find themselves in the middle of a bloodbath where one of their own is killed, they must enlist the security group to provide protection from the unknown assassin.

Laura Griffin’s stories are always such a slow burn which are usually not my favorite because they tend to be on the boring side. But she has this way of keeping the story moving and keeping the reader reading with her storytelling abilities. The mysteries are always well thought out and keep me on my toes. But to top it all off, the romance is always icing on the cake for me. In a genre that’s usually dark and twisty, she injects romantic elements that give the story a unique flare that I really enjoy.

I will say that I think the romance had a little more sexual tension in Desperate Girls so I think I enjoyed that relationship a tad more. But the relationship in Her Deadly Secrets was still steamy and enjoyable at the end of the day.

If you haven’t read Laura Griffin’s work, I would highly recommend it. She’s become a “must read” author for me and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Laura Griffin, and Gallery Books for the opportunity to review.-

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Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every DoorLock Every Door by Riley Sager

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out July 2nd! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Lord… I don’t even think I can do this book justice with a review. What can I write that will explain how I felt after finishing? I was just taken on an absolutely phenomenal ride by Riley Sager.

Let me first start by saying that I fell in love with Sager after reading his first two novels, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. I feel like sometimes authors who come out with a smash hit tend to let me down when I read their sophomore novels. Well The Last Time I Lied did anything but disappoint. And reading Sager’s junior novel, Lock Every Door, I’m officially bowing down to a master of thriller/mystery/horror.

I honestly did not think I would get my hands on this book as it’s one of the most sought after books of the summer. So huge thank you to Dutton for allowing me the opportunity to review.

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When I started reading this book, it slightly reminded me of The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney (another author I adore). Jules is dead broke. She gets fired from her job. She stumbles upon her live in boyfriend cheating on her (in the act) and finds herself couch surfing with a friend and with nowhere to live. Life’s not going very well. Until she finds an ad in the paper looking for an apartment sitter at a highly prestigious New York City apartment complex… getting paid $4,000 per month. She cannot believe her luck and good fortune. Until things start to get weird. Which is where I’ll stop this synopsis because you really need to experience it for yourself.

As the book went on, it reminded me of the Oscar-nominated movie Get Out. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll understand what I mean when you read the book.

Things I’m Raving About:
1. The juxtaposition between poverty and wealth. Sager played with this concept in several different ways throughout the story and did it in a way that didn’t get preachy but highlighted the differences in the lives of those with money versus those who struggle financially. I felt Jules’s helplessness and hopelessness as she worked to get herself out of her current financial situation.
2. How everything tied together. There were so many little details placed strategically throughout the story that wouldn’t even strike you as being relevant. But Sager surprised me dozens of times by looping back to things that happened several hundred pages earlier and perfectly tying up all the loose ends.
3. The uniqueness of the story. I honestly had no idea where this story was headed. I kept trying to guess as I always do with thrillers. And let me make a pretty bold statement… I feel confident that you are NOT going to see the major twist coming. It threw me completely off my game in the best way.

Things I’m Not Raving About:
1. Nothing
2. Nothing
3. Nothing

There is so much more I want to say but for the sake of brevity I’ll just say that I’m confident Sager has another smash hit in Lock Every Door and I think readers will be raving across social media for months to come.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Riley Sager, and Dutton for the opportunity to review-

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

Drawing HomeDrawing Home by Jamie Brenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jamie Brenner never fails to deliver a fabulous summer read perfect for poolside lounging. Last year I read her book The Husband Hour and adored it. When I saw early praise for Drawing Home was super excited to read it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an advanced copy for review but I put myself immediately on the library’s waitlist for the audiobook once it published.

When a prestigious and rich artist suddenly passes away in a small town and leaves all his assets to a young girl to whom he’d been giving drawing lessons, everybody is confused. Her mom. His long time friend. And when the young girl’s absentee father shows up after years of neglect, everybody is suspicious of his motives. Drawning Home is a complex look at family dynamics with a small town summer feel.

I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the inheritance and why it was bestowed on the young girl. I kept trying to guess why the artist would have given her such a substantial gift upon his death, and I’ll tell you right now that I guessed wrong.

The multiple characters’ story lines kept the story interesting and the relationships they all developed to each other was probably my favorite part of the book.

I don’t think I liked this one quite as much as The Husband Hour. Not that there was anything wrong with this story, I just really adored the former. If you’re looking for a great beach read, Jamie Brenner is usually a safe bet. I would highly recommend this one.

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