Book Chat: A Twofer

Ok, I admit, this blogging thing is way harder than I originally thought. I’m basically rubbish at it and I’m not sure how much that’s going to change but when I do get around to doing it, I really enjoy it. It’s a fun way to get the reviews in my head onto “paper” and I love keeping track of all the fun things I find online and the fabulous (and sometimes not even remotely fabulous) books I read.

So today, with that said, I’ve got two books for you.  That’s right, a twofer! (thank you Tina Fey and 30 Rock for introducing that term to me eons ago). Up first is:

Throw Away Girls by Jennifer Vaughnthrow away girl

From Amazon:

Hard-charging, insightful, and ambitious, Jaycee Wilder wants to take her TV news career to the next level. The Los Angeles reporter is hungry for the big story. When dead girls begin to pile up at seedy nightclubs that cater to whimsical, fetish-seeking strangers, Jaycee suspects a serial killer is at work. She aligns herself with an east coast cop trying to resurrect himself- and his once stellar career- from a drunken skid. The killer lives a normal life during the day, while hunting the Throw Away Girls at night, punishing them for their dark urges. He leaves messages behind in his victims’ blood, his explanation for enacting such brutal, twisted justice upon the unworthy. He watches the media coverage. He knows the wily reporter is chasing him. As Jaycee follows her gut, and the evidence, she forces him to act. But when a killer is clever and cunning, he can infiltrate anywhere. Jaycee must utilize all her skills to expose him before he gets to her first.

My Take:

Ok, so I read this book fairly quickly because it was easy.  I thought it was entertaining but the writing was completely sophomoric and at times borderline silly. The dialogue was quite cheesy as well:

 “Shh”, she said dismissively. “Another girl, sexed up and then sliced up. I’m trying to listen here.” (loc.155)

And would then move on to this:

At it’s core, this was a highly metaphysical superstructure of balance. (loc.1952)

Say what?!

The Jaycee Wilder character totally reminded me of the Courtney Cox role in Scream, you know, the pushy and annoying reporter, etc. Jaycee certainly ended up way over her head and frankly, I could have told you “whodunit” from the beginning so to me there was no mystery but bottom line, I was anxious for this book to be over so I could move on. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it because it was pure Stilton in book form and didn’t require much brain power.

Up next: 

Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

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From Amazon:

She’s gone from nobody to somebody. And she’s not going back.

When ordinary Emma Fern strikes up a friendship with glamorous Beatrice Johnson Greene, her favourite author, she can’t believe her luck. But Beatrice has an unusual favour to ask, one that will change Emma’s life forever.

For Emma, desperate to please, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. All she has to do is let Beatrice publish her latest novel under her name. But the book becomes a huge triumph and after her first taste of success, Emma wants more. And she’ll stop at nothing to get it. This is her masterpiece, after all. It says so on the cover.

Only Beatrice knows the truth. And surely there’s a solution to that.

My Take:

Holy smokes! I loved this book, could not get enough! I ripped through this one,  not because I wanted to get it over with but because it was so damn good. I waffled for a good long while on who was the bad guy because the characters were so rich and well developed. Eventually I came to the same conclusion most people would but it was quite a ride getting there.  Emma Fern starts off as your normal, run of the mill woman and then basically turns batshit crazy. I mean, she did have some provocation but let’s be real.  Beatrice was a bitch, I get it, but should that turn someone murderous? Probably not. At least not a sane person.

I loved the side angle story with her husband too, it added another dimension or layer which makes Emma spin out of control. But I don’t want to divulge too much info so I’ll just leave it at that.

I would 100% recommend this book and imagine my glee when I just noticed there is a follow up! I know what I’m downloading asap…!

**Full discolor: I received these books for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: The Woman In The Mirror

 

Woman in the mirror

From Amazon:

A fabulous and very dark exploration of the twisted and neurotic minds of the residents of a cliff-top bungalow.

A gripping, page-turning journey, peeling back more and more layers through tantalizing revelations of the past.

Noreen Palmer describes herself as sweet and responsible, but she can’t stop lying about the things that happened in her bungalow perched on a cliff above the ocean.

When Alexandra Mallory and Jared Brady rent rooms in Noreen’s precariously situated home, the danger of falling over the cliff is the least of their fears.

Noreen’s escalating threats force Alex to uncover Noreen’s secrets and right a terrible wrong.

My Take:

This book was good, but there were some things that didn’t work for me. The good news is that I found myself wanting to set aside time to read this, which doesn’t always happen, even on the best of days with the best of books. It was because I honestly had no idea what the deal was with Noreen, or Alex, or even Jared. They all seemed to be a bit quirky but obviously Noreen was the one who made me shake my head the most, thinking “why the hell would anyone be like this”. (You finally do find out why she was like that but it still didn’t do much for me.) Everything seemed a bit forced, like Jared falling madly in love with Alex after one night, planning their life together after they move out of Noreen’s. I mean, C’mon.

What I didn’t quite get until near the end was how the book is about a woman who is tired of the sexism and obvious hypocrisy women face day in and day out in real life. Alex starts talking about it as the book goes on, and it does ring true. I found myself saying “right on, sister!” Of course, she takes things quite a bit further than the average person but that kind of made for the interesting read the book was. I really enjoyed the chase of finding out why Noreen was the way she was, why Alex was so cool and aloof, and what would happen between her and her roommate Jared. Overall, this book didn’t disappoint, and I was happy with the ending as it didn’t leave me hanging…too much.

 

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: Walk Into Silence

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From Amazon:

A woman vanishes from a Texas town. Did she simply run off, or is something darker at play?

When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.

But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.

For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.

My Take:

Loved it! I couldn’t get enough and needed to find out what happened to Jenny Dielman. I kept thinking it was the nosy, husband coveter from next door because she acted so incredibly shady, but then I also thought it might be the ex-husband or even his new wife so there was plenty of mystery to be had. The writing was really nice, flowed smoothly and the characters, as I said, were so good that I just couldn’t decide who to suspect more.

I certainly hope to have a long series involving Jo Larsen, a very driven detective who doesn’t settle until the case is closed.

While I hate books where kids or animals are the subject of abuse or worse, this book was written in such a way that I wasn’t a blubbering mess but more involved in the whodunit so that’s always a win for me.

Overall, great read and highly recommend!

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: The Square

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The Square by Rosie Millard

From Amazon UK

Jane has the ideal life: loving husband, beautiful house and delightful son. Her fashionable dinner parties are perfect – and so are her secret assignations with her neighbour’s husband, Jay. From Tracey and her ‘New Money’ lottery winnings to eccentric artist Philip and his pornographic portraits, the residents of North London’s most privileged enclave The Square are a very satisfied bunch. To raise money for communal fencing, the Residents’ Association decides to hold a Talent Show, produced by Jane and hosted by TV celebrity Alan Makin. But when the show lurches into public disarray, reputations are shattered and everyone has to learn to live with a far less glossy reality than before.

 

My Take:

This was a kicky little book about neighbors in an upper class London square. It was a bit Melrose Place except with married, wealthy families instead of gorgeous single people. It was written from multiple perspectives, with the viewpoint of the Square’s bitchiest occupant, Jane to the children who live in the households, including George, Jane’s son. I was never quite able to figure out how old he was; at times he sounded and acted much older than he would at other moments throughout the book. Strange. You also hear from other neighbors like the lucky lottery winners and the eccentric artist and his bizarre companion. Each of them is flawed in their own special way, which makes for an entertaining read.

The premise of the book was fun, being a fly on the wall in the households where things may look great on the outside but underneath all the fluff there was some seriously dissatisfied people, cheating on one another here, there, and everywhere. I found the characters to be only somewhat developed, I never really cared to know any of them further though. Again, it was fluff, but that was what I knew it was so it delivered perfectly.

It wrapped itself up fairly well, although I would have liked a bit more closure on some of the happenings. Overall, it was a fun, punchy read that I would definitely bring along to a beach and read while soaking up some Vitamin D.

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: Two Days Gone

Two Days Gone

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

From Amazon:

The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.

What could cause a man, when all the stars of fortune are shining upon him, to suddenly snap and destroy everything he has built? This is the question that haunts Sergeant Ryan DeMarco after the wife and children of beloved college professor and bestselling author Thomas Huston are found slaughtered in their home. Huston himself has disappeared and so is immediately cast as the prime suspect.

DeMarco knows―or thinks he knows―that Huston couldn’t have been capable of murdering his family. But if Huston is innocent, why is he on the run? And does the half-finished manuscript he left behind contain clues to the mystery of his family’s killer?

A masterful new thriller by acclaimed author Randall Silvis, Two Days Gone is a taut, suspenseful story that will will break your heart as much as it will haunt your dreams.

My Take:

Hey all, hope everyone had a great holiday!! Sorry for being all non-posty and stuff but this book took me forever to finish and it wasn’t necessarily that it wasn’t good, because I did look forward to when I could sit down and read it but as most of you can probably relate, this time of year is so full-on packed with things to do, Christmas concerts, holiday parties, shopping for presents, getting tangled in wrapping paper and tape, etc., etc.

So back to the book, the first thing I should say is that it was a hard read based on the format on my Kindle, as it was all over the place format wise. But I’m hopeful that it is only because it was a pre-copy and I assume it won’t be like that regularly. As for the story itself, it was ok. I can’t say great because it just didn’t engage me as much as previous books I’ve reviewed but perhaps I’m not being fair due to all the other stuff that kept my mind occupied. It was a pretty dark storyline though, which is right up my alley (weird, because I’m like, the most peaceful person in real life unless you count road rage!) so it called to me for that reason. I must admit, as a parent, some of this was really hard to think about but it wasn’t so intense as to keep me from reading. I generally shy away from any book where something happens to kids, and animals if I’m being truthful, lol.

I didn’t really understand why Sergeant DeMarco was so captivated by Huston, the man accused of killing his own family. He seemed to think he knew him far better than someone who only hung out with him a few times should. It was little things like that which bugged me a bit but overall, I thought the storyline was ok, and subplots like DeMarco’s wife and his history were included but didn’t do much to enhance the story. But did it keep me wondering who actually did it? For sure! Did I enjoy reading it? Not really. Did I look forward to finishing it to move on to another story? Yes. So from that, you can reach your own conclusion!

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Book Chat: Because She Loves Me

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Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards

From Amazon:

A gripping tale of jealousy, obsession and murder, from the No.1 Bestselling author of The Magpies.

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.

But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth…

Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares?

My Take:

I just finished this as, weirdly, I fell asleep last night with like, two pages left. But don’t let that fool you, this book was anything but boring!! In fact, it was a super read, full of drama, suspense, and a twist at the end that I honestly didn’t see coming.  There were times in the book that I would roll my eyes at the absurdity of Andrew’s thought processes (case in point: “She had, I believed, committed murder. But, in a way, my crime against her was even worse. I’d betrayed her behind her back.” Whaaaat?? Please!) but for entertainment value, you know why the author made him that way. He was the perfect candidate for a psycho stalker and to be honest, it was a bit maddening that he didn’t catch on sooner but who am I to say when I wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did?

I’d like to give away more but don’t want to spoil it so if you’ve read it I’d love to hear your take!

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: The Sister

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The Sister by Louise Jensen

From Amazon:

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

My take:

So yeah, I’m on a roll with books that are reaaaaalllly good…Characters were nicely developed, although I did think Grace was a bit on the annoying side, I mean, who let’s some girl you just met go out with their boyfriend to some fancy shindig, is there not even a hint of something askew?!  Anyway, Dan was the obligingly nice boyfriend, or was he? The ghost of Charlie is ever-present which helps the reader to understand and almost feel the grief that Grace feels. And Anna, well, c’mon.

The storyline is something right off a Lifetime Movie but if you know me, I’m not above a good Lifetime flick! In fact, I quite enjoy a good revenge story and this one is certainly that! I love fast-paced prose where I can’t wait to turn the page and I’ve seriously been hitting the jackpot with this lately. The writing was nicely done too, very detailed and descriptive without droning on with non-essentials. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to friends, it was a fun read!

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Chat: The Summer Before the War

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The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

From Amazon:

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking—and attractive—than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

My Take:

I read this book lightning fast, which for me can be difficult at times due to scheduling and overall attention span.  I love a good historical fiction book though and this one didn’t let me down.

It takes place in England, Rye in East Sussex to be exact and the time period is 1914. A young woman named Beatrice Nash is left on her own after her father dies and must seek a position teaching Latin in the Seaside town. Traveling to a new home, knowing not a soul, she is lucky enough to be welcomed by ‘Aunt Agatha’, ‘Hugh Grange’, and his cousin ‘Daniel.  Turns out though, they are all lucky to have each other.

While they pass the summer by, enjoying beautiful weather, adventures, and soirees, a war is brewing. It all comes to a halt when the men are sent off to war, refugees come to stay in their quaint village and the men and women get to see first hand the brutality of war.

This book was able to be light enough when it needed to be, in order to keep it from being a total downer even when there were some serious, sad bits to it. The characters were rich and likable (except the one’s that weren’t, ahem, Mrs. Fothergill!) and you truly felt the emotion coming from the characters, the good and the bad.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and for being a big book, I was pleased to blow right through it. To me, that’s always the best review I can give. When you don’t plod through a book, it was a good one!

**Full disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Book Chat: The Butterfly Garden

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The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

From Amazon:

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

My Take:

I finally got around to reading ‘The Butterfly Garden’ (The Collector Trilogy) by Dot Hutchison after it sat on my Kindle for a while, being grossly overlooked. I think I actually tried reading it a couple of times but just wasn’t in the mood. Crazy lady! This book needs to be made into a movie for two solid reasons:

1. It rocked!
2. I was soooo not able to visualise the garden and its subsequent rooms so if Hollywood wouldn’t mind helping me out, that’d be great…

So, back to what I thought of the story itself, as I said, it rocked. It was so totally engrossing and while there were loads of names to remember and little things about the people who owned those names, it wasn’t convoluted at all and the plot really developed nicely. I always furrow my brow when the character seems to be too smart for their years and “Maya” was one of those characters. Perhaps I was a completely immature girl many moons ago and yeah, I still enjoy a good fart joke so maybe there really are kids out there who have Poe memorised, etc., who am I to say?!

The story moved along quickly and I found myself whizzing through the pages to see how it all ended. I’m not a spoiler so I’m not going into too much detail but suffice it to say that if you’re a fan of thrillers like Gone Girl, yada yada yada, you’ll probably like this one.

Anyone read it and care to share your thoughts?

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