Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson: Book Review

Before She Knew Him  by Peter Swanson
Published March 5, 2019 by William Morrow
320 Pages

From Publisher: an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

My Thoughts: I should probably apologize in advance for this extremely vague review BUT this is most definitely a book you don’t want to know much about going in. Trust me. Also, I loved/hated this book so rather than be super confusing with my details as to why I’ll just give you a quick overview.

As I said, I loved this book so much…up until I didn’t.  For much of the book,  I couldn’t wait to pick this back up when life intervened. But then a plot development happened and I’ll admit, I got pretty mad.

Hen and her husband Lloyd are new in the neighborhood and have been invited to their neighbor’s house for a party. When Hen notices a statue on the shelf in their den, she’s convinced it belonged to a boy who was murdered years ago. A case Hen had previously been completely obsessed with. You see, Hen has her own mental health issues but she’s determined to find out if her neighbor Matthew is a killer. 

I absolutely love how Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it. I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how it all played out. Until one major plot point left me feeling manipulated on such a level that rather than feeling like oh you totally got me I felt angry about what I believed to be pure gimmick. This had been such an intricate, interesting story up until that point. When I read thrillers I don’t mind being kept in the dark and being surprised by the resolution (in fact I prefer it) but I don’t want to feel tricked by the author’s use of a gimmick and that’s how this one left me feeling. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give a single detail away. Read this for yourself and see what you think, then message me to discuss. Overall,  this was an addictive, page turning read but I was disappointed in the end. 

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

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Monday Reading Update

 

Hi All! Hope you had a good weekend. We’re still waiting for warmer weather here in Ohio, so in the meantime I’ve been taking advantage of reading under my favorite cozy blanket. I had a SUPER productive reading week last week, finishing 3 books, 2 of which I really liked although none were 5 star reads…close but not quite.

RECENTLY READ…

The River   was way more literary than I expected. I don’t mean that in a bad way because the writing was excellent but I thought it would be more thriller like and it really wasn’t. I appreciated the author’s obvious knowledge of canoeing on a river and wilderness survival along with his ability to create extremely realistic scenes. I wanted to read this book because I love nature and stories about wilderness survival because I would never ever want to go camping or rafting on a river…ever. I felt like I was there while reading this story though. However, I thought there was something lacking. I’m not sure if it was the third person narration which made me feel less connected to either Wynn or Jack but I was left feeling underwhelmed when I should’ve felt several other emotions.

Before She Knew Him was one of my most anticipated winter reads and it definitely ended up being addictive reading. I love how Swanson writes characters who are wacky and completely in your face about it! BUT, I ended up having thoughts…many thoughts…I’ll have a review up soon.

The Last Act was a such a fast paced, action filled read. The blurb for this contained so many of my favorite buzz words (FBI, prison, undercover, ) I knew I would love it…and I did. Review up (hopefully) tomorrow for pub day

 

TRIED BUT WASN’T FEELING…

American Spy also had so many of my favorite buzz words in the publisher blurb…espionage, spy thriller, FBI, passionate romance and betrayal…yes please! After the opening scene, however, the plot quickly fizzled for me with WAY too much telling and a second person narrative structure I didn’t like.

 

CURRENTLY READING…

The Devil Aspect  came on my radar after I saw Katie’s review at Basicbsguide  on Instagram. This creepy story centering around the “criminally insane” sounds like something I’ll love. I’ve just started it but I can say it’s drawn me in from the first page. Let’s hope my luck with quality thriller reads continues!

POSSIBLE NEXT READS…

    OR  

I think I’m about ready for a thriller break before I start having nightmares about all the psychopaths I’ve been reading about! Both of these sound promising and would be much lighter reads.

Did you read anything great last week? Have anything that sounds amazing coming up? Let me know in the comments!

Have a Great Week!!

Mini Review Tuesday: Never Tell, Stalker & The Last Romantics

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts these past couple weeks. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with the blog as well as social media and reading on top of life! It’s a lot and I’m trying to figure out what the best platform is for me to share my reviews and still be able to connect and interact with other readers which has been my main purpose all along. Lately, I’m finding that it’s super fast for me to get a review posted quickly on my Instagram which you can find (here). and/or my Goodreads (here).  I’m regularly posting my current reads on both as well as quick thoughts and book recommendations in my Instagram stories. I tend to post all my audiobook recommendations there right as I’m listening to them. All this is to say, if you aren’t seeing posts from me here as regularly as before and you’re interested in what I’m reading and reviewing, try those platforms – I hope you’ll follow me at one or both! Now, on to some amazing reads…

 

Never Tell  by Lisa Gardner
Published: Feb 19 by Dutton
419 Pages

From Publisher: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

My Thoughts: Friends, Lisa Gardner just keeps getting better and better. I’ve been a loyal reader of her DD Warren series for years but I’ve also read every standalone book she’s ever wrote and I have to say, there’s NO author out there writing at this high a level book after book. Never Tell has continuing characters DD Warren, her husband Alex, partners Phil and Neil and her new protege/confidential informant Flora Dane. Despite this being part of a series, I do think you could read this as a standalone and be perfectly happy. 

The story is told in alternating perspectives from Flora, DD, and Evie. Evie starts off the story when she enters her home and finds her husband shot to death and she proceeds to take the gun. Why? You’ll have to read because that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. DD is the investigating detective and she enlists Flora’s help. Flora’s perspective gives us a much more in depth look at her past time with her kidnapper Jacob Ness and we get to understand so much more about why she is the way she is. The pace is fast, the chapters short, and the plot intricate. There are webs upon webs upon webs to be untangled and deciphered and I loved every minute of trying…to no avail. This one’s so well plotted my advice is just sit back and enjoy the read. If you enjoy thrillers with intricately plotted mysteries this book’s for you! You really can’t go wrong with any of Lisa’s books but a few of my past favorites are Gone, Love You More, The Perfect Husband and Catch Me

Thanks to Dutton via Netgalley for my copy

******
Stalker  by Lars Kepler
Published Feb 5, 2019 by Knopf
560 Pages
From Publisher: Detective Joona Linna — recently returned from compassionate leave — reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable sadistic killer.
My Thoughts: This was such a fantastic thriller! The opening scenes are chilling to say the least. Someone is stalking women from afar, video taping them as they go about their lives in their homes and then sending the video to police minutes before the each woman is murdered. Needless to say, the police don’t have time to figure out who the women are before they’re killed. This storyline runs parallel to another involving Joona Linna, the main detective from the series. Joona is not at his best but he’s called in to assist the new detective in charge, Margot, who’s very pregnant and very dedicated to stopping this killer. Joona also reconnects with his friend, the hypnotist Erik, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Everything about this story worked for me, the pace was excellent, the characterization strong, and the mystery a top notch whodunit. I didn’t have it figured out that’s for sure. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!
Thanks to Knopf via Netgalley for my copy
******

The Last Romantics  by Tara Conklin
Published Feb 5, 2019 by William Morrow
368 Pages

From Publisher: When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

My Thoughts: I really loved this book! This family saga that centered on 4 siblings who were left to fend for themselves during what they called “the pause” after their father dies and their mother retreats to her bedroom for several years was so well written. We follow siblings Renee, Joe, Caroline and Fiona from childhood through old age which gave me the feeling that I truly knew these characters as real people. I love stories set over decades!

I flew through the first half, finding Fiona’s narration interesting yet with a melancholy flow. I did find that the middle dragged for me with a few too many shifts in time and perspectives that felt abrupt at times. The final third was fantastic and left me in tears. Ultimately, this story was, for me, a meditation on love, despair, resilience, family, and forgiveness.

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy 

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells: Book Review

The End of Loneliness  by Benedict Wells
Published: Jan 29 by Penguin Books
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

 

From Publisher: A kaleidoscopic family saga told through the fractured lives of the three Moreau siblings alongside a faltering, recovering love story, The End of Loneliness is a stunning meditation on the power of our memories, of what can be lost and what can never be let go.

My Thoughts: I love family sagas so I had high hopes for this character driven exploration of fate, life, and love but by the halfway point I fizzled out on the story. This is the story of Jules, Marty and Liz, 3 siblings who weather their first tragedy when their parents are killed when they’re all still under 16 (Not a spoiler, this is in book jacket description). They’re sent to a boarding school and I must say, the author did a fantastic job of portraying the depth of sadness that all 3 experienced because, as we learned from the beginning of the story, they were close with their parents and had a happy family life. Jules is the narrator and while I liked him, it did create a situation where I didn’t feel like I got to know or understand the story from Liz and Marty’s perspectives which I would’ve liked. Especially Liz as she really struggled after their parents were killed.

I appreciated the author’s ability to wax philosophical on fate, chance and how one’s life course can be completely altered by both. However, by the halfway mark I wanted more from the story. Not a whole lot was happening outside of us getting life updates on each as the years go by. We know Jules has been in a motorcycle accident and I did wonder what contributed to that situation but I found myself skimming for the second half of the book. I liked the ending but overall, I just wanted more…more drama, conflict, tension…something. But the writing is great and if you like slower, philosophical, character explorations this would be for you.

Thanks to Penguin Books for my copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review 

Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz: Book Review

 

Out of the Dark By Gregg Hurwitz
Published: Jan 29, 2019 by Minotaur Books
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man, a man who helps the truly desperate when no one else can. But now, someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers

My Thoughts: If I’m ever in trouble, I hope someone calls Evan Smoak for me! Orphan X is back in the 4th installment of this fast paced, fun thriller series and he’s going after his most hated opponent yet, the President of the United States. The prologue shows us a very interesting scene in Russia in which Evan is out on his first solo mission as a trained assassin for a dark black ops program the US government formed.  I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of Evan as a young man because, cut to current day, he’s now in what I guess to be his late 30s and he’s no longer in the program. He now spends his days being The Nowhere Man, carrying out his own brand of vigilante justice for those who call his super secret line and are in dire need of help. The two storylines run parallel to each other and the author pulls them off brilliantly.

While Evan is doing some serious scouting of the President’s agendas, day to day security details, life in and outside The White House , etc we are privy to some fascinating details about the life of The President which I’m assuming are true (at least most) and which seem very thoroughly researched. This was one of my favorite parts of the book actually! While Evan is deciding on his best course of action to assassinate the President, the President has called in Evan’s arch rival, Orphan A, to kill Evan. It’s all very cut throat, fast paced, and tension filled.

Along with these 2 main storylines, we also have Evan’s ongoing romantic involvement with his neighbor, single mom and prosecutor Mia, who, accurately enough, suspects that Evan isn’t living the most law abiding lifestyle (she has no idea how right she is) so she won’t allow herself or her son to become too invested in him. I love how Hurwitz has weaved this thread of Mia and Evan throughout all 4 books.

If this sounds like a lot going on in one book, it is but it all works. I’ve said it before, the Orphan X novels remind me of the Jason Bourne movies so if you like that type of fast paced, action filled thriller with a very smart good guy to root for, who let’s face it, seemingly can’t be killed and almost never sleeps, this is for you. Do you have to suspend disbelief in parts? Of course, but who cares because this story and these characters are just so well done.

I will say, I highly recommend starting with book 1, Orphan X, in order to get the full backstory of these characters but if you choose to start here, Hurwitz does a great job of providing just enough info about important events from the previous books so you won’t feel completely lost. If you’re in the mood for an action packed thriller, you can’t go wrong with this series and good news…. I read that there will be 3 more Orphan X books in the future so you have plenty of time to catch up!

Thanks to Minotaur Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker: Book Review

 

The Dreamers  by Karen Thompson Walker
Published Jan 15, 2019 by Random House
320 Pages
Affiliate linkBuy on Amazon 

From Publisher: In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

My Thoughts: In an effort to read a little more widely and outside of my mystery/thriller/romance genres, I decided to give this book a try based on the many positive reviews from blogging friends and on Goodreads. I’ve enjoyed science fiction in the past (Dark Matter) but I’m more unsure about dystopian stories. Overall, I liked this one for reasons I wasn’t anticipating when I began.

The premise of the story was fascinating and pulled me in right away. What was this mysterious phenomenon where people were falling into a deep sleep and not waking? How is it spreading? How can it be prevented if at all? So many questions are examined through the lens of wonderful storytelling. The author doesn’t use any gimmicks with this story; rather, she tells it in such a way that I was drawn into not only the characters but the writing itself. There are many characters and the chapters  alternate between several over the span of the book. I had no trouble keeping the characters straight and of course had my favorites…Sara and Libby and Nathanial are at the top of my list.

Along with excellent characterization, I really enjoyed the entire aspect of dreams which came as a surprise to me. The author delves into the intricacies of dreaming, and ties it into the story in ways that hint to an almost alternate reality for many of the characters. It really made me think about those dreams that FEEL SO REAL and how when we’re in the midst of those dreams they ARE real to us. It’s fascinating to me and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author weaved this concept into the story.

There were a few things, however, that didn’t work for me. With so many characters, I became less invested in a few of them and found myself rushing to get back to those I really cared about. Also, somewhere around the 60% mark I found myself getting impatient with the story and wanting things to happen, to move faster. I may have even done a little skimming. As for the ending, I found it a little anti-climatic as others have mentioned but I felt that the author did give us as many answers as  possible for the story. I wasn’t blown away by how it ended but I was satisfied.

Have you read this or want to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments 

Thanks to Random House via Netgalley for my copy

 

Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2019

 

Happy Monday everyone! Are you as excited as I am about the crop of books coming this winter? SO many sound amazing, actually too many for me to include in this post but I had fun picking out my MOST anticipated.  I think I’ve got a variety so hopefully some are also on your lists or you’ll find some new ones to add to your TBR’s. If you have time, feel free to share your thoughts on my choices as well as YOUR most anticipated upcoming book(s) in the comments below

 

JANUARY

Out of the Dark  (Jan 29) When darkness closes in―he’s your last, best hope. Evan Smoak returns in Gregg Hurwitz’s #1 international bestselling Orphan X series.
**This is the 4th book in the Orphan X series by Greg Hurwitz and from early reviews, apparently his best yet. This series is well written and action packed with a main character you can really root for. I recommend reading the books in order, starting with Orphan X

Here and Now and Then  (Jan 29) A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, this book captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart, and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.
**I love books with time travel elements and when I see emotional and genre bending added to the mix I’m all in

99 Percent Mine (Jan 29) Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend.
**I loved The Hating Game and feel confident that this new romantic comedy with its seemingly star-crossed lovers will be right up my alley

 

FEBRUARY

The Winter Sister (Feb 5) In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.
**Another debut that sounds intriguing. I love unsolved murders and early Instagram reviews are very positive for this one

The Unwinding of the Miracle  (Feb 5) A rare and inspiring memoir by a young mother with Stage IV metastatic cancer that challenges the pieties with which we usually write and talk about death, and serves as a guide not just through the ordeal of disease, but through the universal experience of struggle.
**I”m always on the look out for thought provoking nonfiction along the lines of past favorites like The Bright Hour  and When Breath Becomes Air  (yes, both serious tearjerkers) and this memoir sounds just as good

The Lost Man (Feb 5) Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland but only one returns
**
I loved Harper’s first book, The Dry but didn’t care for her second novel Force of Nature so I’m looking forward to finding out where I fall with her new one. This is a standalone which I like and the mystery seems to be more on the lines of The Dry

The Last Romantics  (Feb 5) A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family. An unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love
**I love stories described as sweeping and epic so those buzzwords caught my eye right away. This is a book about 4 siblings and I really enjoy those types of family stories

American Spy (Feb 12) What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love? One woman struggles to choose between her honor and her heart in this enthralling espionage drama set against an unforgettable historical backdrop.
**I love every part of what this book is about…part spy thriller, part heartbreaking family drama, part passionate romance…inspired by true events! Yes please!!

MARCH 

When All is Said  (March 5) If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?
**I think the success of this story, for me, will hinge on the main character Maurice. I really hope I connect with him as he spends an evening alone at a bar, toasting to 5 people in his life who left him behind

The Mastermind  (March 5) The incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux—the creator of a frighteningly powerful Internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur
**I LOVE thrilling true crime and this sounds like it will be suspenseful yet fascinating. Am I the only one who has never heard of an internet cartel? If the writing holds up, I predict I’m going to love this one!

Before She Knew Him (March 5) Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door. An exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .
**I loved The Kind Worth Killing  and have been waiting on Swanson to write something similar to that one and this sounds like it could be just as chilling and creepy. I always enjoy some suburban chaos and maybe a little murder thrown in for good suspense!

Grace After Henry (March 12) Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the street, at the graveyard. Only Henry is dead. He died two months earlier, leaving a huge hole in Grace’s life and in her heart. But then Henry turns up to fix the boiler one evening, and Grace can’t decide if she’s hallucinating or has suddenly developed psychic powers. Grace isn’t going mad – the man in front of her is not Henry at all, but someone else who looks uncannily like him.
**I’m very curious about this love story…will it be sad or humorous? More rom-commish?  I don’t know but I’m looking forward to finding out. I’m feeling like suspension of disbelief might be needed but I’m ok with that if I connect with the story and characters…we”ll see.

I hope I’ve expanded your TBR’s! An added note if you’re interested, I will be randomly posting other books I’m excited about throughout the winter in my Instagram Stories which you can access here as well as on my Twitter (here) and Goodreads (here

Happy Reading!

 

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: Book Review

An Anonymous Girl  by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 8, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
384 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy on Amazon 

From Publisher: When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.  Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

My Thoughts: I’ll admit, every now and then I really let myself get swayed by all the hype surrounding a book as was the case with this one. It’s everywhere.  Going against my instincts and the fact that I don’t really enjoy psychological thrillers, I decided to give this a try. The verdict: I’m glad I read it so I don’t have to wonder if I’m missing out BUT my instincts were correct – this wasn’t the book for me.

The blurb tells you all you need to know about how Jessica gets involved with Dr Lydia Shields. From the get go, I wasn’t really into the psychological study aspect. I found it strange and unbelievable. I have no problem suspending my disbelief, but for me, this entire plot was just TOO unbelievable. Maybe it’s because I have a background in psychology but the Dr’s in this book were so far out of the realm of realistic, I just couldn’t be on board with most of the plot.

As for Jessica, I would say she was the most developed character but I would’ve liked more character development with everyone overall. Around the 50% mark I started to enjoy the cat & mouse that developed when Jessica finally started to take matters into her own hands and stopped being so passive when it came to Dr Shields and another character. The story is told through alternating perspectives of Jessica and Dr Shields; however, Dr Shields speaks in the second person for her sections – as if she’s talking directly to Jessica – I wasn’t crazy about this technique.   This very much boiled down to a story of  manipulations, lies upon lies, and who’s really the dangerous one. For me, I found it to be too drawn out (I skimmed here and there) and ultimately predictable.  However, the very reasons this wasn’t for me are the reasons so many are loving this (especially if you love psychological thrillers), so I highly encourage you to head to Goodreads and check out some of the many 5 star reviews for an alternate opinion.

Thanks To St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review

 

2 Backlist Bingeworthy Books for Your 2019 TBR’s

The Idea of You  by Robinne Lee
Published: June 13, 2017 By St Martin’s Griffin
368 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy on Amazon 

From Publisher: Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things

 

My Thoughts: Ok, so I read this blurb when the book first came out and I was seeing it everywhere and I thought it wasn’t for me because of the large age difference. Earlier this week, however, I saw this on someone’s Instagram top 2018 books of the year post and decided to take a closer look after reading that she had had the same reservations but then loved it. Well, this effectively busted me out of my DNF pattern and I read it in one day! This story was such a fun surprise. There’s some serious globetrotting travel going on which I loved as well as a high level of cultural detail into the art world as the main character Solene owns her own gallery. I found her to be very likable although she made some  questionable parenting decisions along the way. I also really liked Hayes who was levels above his age, maturity wise.

There are SO many themes explored in this book….love of course, ageism, sexism, the downside of fame, our society’s obsession with celebrities, women & aging, double standards, etc. I think this would make a great book club pick because there’s quite a lot to discuss but know that the romance is often quite steamy and explicit so…know your book club is what I’m saying. I’m dying to discuss this – especially that ending which I’m still thinking about days later –  so if you’ve read it and want to chat send me an email or DM me on Twitter or Instagram. Ultimately, I loved this and found it to be a smart, sophisticated love story. Bingeworthy indeed!

 

 

Forever is the Worst Long Time  by Camille Pagan
Published: Feb 7, 2017 by Lake Union
284 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon 

From Publisher: When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

My Thoughts: My 2019 has started with a bang with this couldn’t-put-it-down story. One of my favorite storylines is a love triangle so right off the bat I had high hopes for this book. The story is narrated by James from a time in the future which I thought was a perfect way to not only get to know (and like) him but to also get to know Lou and Rob through his eyes. James and Rob had been friends since they were kids and I loved how Pagan incorporated the sentimentality of that type of friendship along with growing up in a small town. If you’re James, what do you DO when you’ve fallen in love with your best friend’s fiancé?

What I especially loved about the way Pagan told the story is that everyone felt like real people making what often ended up being stupid decisions. They were flawed in just the right ways that what they did or didn’t do made sense even if I didn’t agree with them.  I have to say, throughout the story, I had no idea what was going to happen with these characters because twists happened early on.  Plus, it takes place over a time period of about 18 years so we really get involved and invested in the drama of their lives. And the drama was good! And perfectly paced. In the end, things happened I never anticipated and there may have been crying on my part. Seriously, I wasn’t prepared for how emotional this story ended up being and I loved every bit of this surprising one sit read! This is my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this or want to!

Monday Reading Update & Feedback Please!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! I can’t believe 2018 is almost over. Has anyone else been super busy this holiday season? I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been traveling but I haven’t, just a lot of busyness after Christmas. I feel like I’m finally slowing down but yes, my reading has suffered. I’ve read 1 book over the past 2 weeks and I’m starting to get frustrated by not having a book to look forward to reading at the end of the day. I’ve picked up so many books over the last few days and haven’t been able to get into ANY!  I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling that happens when you can’t get into anything…like oh no, I’m never going to find another book I love! Irrational I know but I start to feel like that. This is also the curse of being a mood reader; I’m only in the mood for certain types of reads lately, namely thrillers or quality romance. P.S. Before I came back to finish writing this post I started a book …read on to find out what has FINALLY got my attention.

That being said I’ve also been thinking about blog postings for the new year and would love your quick feedback in the comment section. What would you like to see more of on the blog…book lists, Monday Updates, Top Ten Tuesdays, Throwback Thursdays, more reviews, mini reviews, discussions, etc? I’d really like to hear what you’d like to read more (or less) of on the blog. I’m trying to come up with a more consistent posting schedule so please share any thoughts you have. I’m looking forward to talking books with you in 2019…

RECENTLY READ…

 

The Sandman  by Lars Kepler
Published: March 6, 2018 by Knopf
464 pages

My Thoughts: This was a fantastic, creepy thriller that also had a good mystery to it. I jumped right into the series with this book (book 4) and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I love the main character, Joona, and the Scandi setting is perfect for a winter read. Plus, book 5, Stalker is coming out in Feb. If you love intelligent, plot driven thrillers give this a try

 

 

 

TRIED BUT COULDN’T GET INTO…

Scrublands  publishes in January and was a book I was really looking forward to. The marketing blurb said it was The Dry meets Before the Fall but while it was set in Australia like The Dry that’s where the similarities ended for me. I gave this one 40% but found it to be very repetitive and to have way too much going on. The Paragon Hotel  is another January release that sounded right up my alley. Set in the era of Prohibition there’s a single woman with a gun shot wound running from someone on a train bound for Oregon. The blurb says a good mystery involving a missing child comes up but I didn’t get past 10%. The writing and dialogue felt stilted to me and by 10% I had to admit I had no idea who was who or what was going on. If trusted reading friends love it I may give it another try. The premise ( a Serial like documentary with a convicted murderer) and introduction of Don’t Believe It intrigued me and I think I’ll revisit this one another time, it just wasn’t compelling enough to hold my interest right now (DNF 15%). I’ve had She Rides Shotgun  on my TBR for so long. It won the Edgar award for best debut novel which usually is a surefire sign I’ll like a book but while I know the dad in the story was an outlaw and “bad” person, I just found him annoying and didn’t care about the little girl. This is one instance I think if the author would’ve allowed me to get to know either of them before diving right into the action I might’ve been connected enough with at least the little girl to keep going (DNF 8%).

CURRENTLY READING…(as of about 2 hours ago)

Forever is the Worst Long Time  was on my radar in the past but I forgot about it unfortunately. When I saw it on an Instagram favorite books of 2018 post today I immediately downloaded a sample, loved it and promptly bought it! So far it’s reminding me of One Day in December  (My Review) with what seems like an interesting love triangle developing. I’m loving the dialogue and pace, so far so good which makes me really happy.

What have you been reading & loving lately? I’d love to know and don’t forget, if you have an extra minute, leave me a comment letting me know what you’d like to see more of on the blog for 2019! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!