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 

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!

Verity by Colleen Hoover: Book Review

Verity  By Colleen Hoover
Publication: Dec 7, 2018
250 Pages
Affiliate Link Buy On Amazon

Short Summary : Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. However, it’s not long before Lowen realizes things with the Crawfords aren’t as they seem…in more ways than one.

My Thoughts: You may remember that this year I’ve jumped on the CoHo fan train (better late than never, right?) and have loved many of her books….Ugly Love, It Ends with Us, and All Your Perfects being my favorites. Verity is a totally different type of read and I’m so impressed with Hoover for taking a leap outside of her normal genre and writing something so psychologically dark and suspenseful. And bravo for such an impactful opening scene. Try putting the book down after that harrowing, slightly gruesome opening scene…I know I couldn’t.

We are first introduced to Lowen, getting a feel for her and her life which includes a recently deceased mother, an upcoming eviction, and a loss for where to go next in her writing career. Enter handsome, somewhat sorrowful Jeremy Crawford who, along with his wife’s publishing team, gives Lowen an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up – finish writing his wife’s (the bestselling novelist Verity Crawford) remaining books in her popular series. She accepts and when she begins researching the series and getting to know the family better, things begin to feel off kilter and just wrong in so many ways. Cue the tension and suspense that Hoover manifests throughout the story.

That’s all I want to say on the plot because I loved not knowing anything about it. The tension in the Crawford house felt palpable to me and when Hoover introduced a book within a book subplot I knew I was in for a late night of reading. It’s not often that plot device works for me but in this story it was brilliant. I zoomed through this book, all the while not really sure I knew who to trust, who was mentally off, or who was just outright lying.  I thought I did, but my feelings changed throughout which I loved. My only critique is that I felt the ending was too abrupt. It felt very rushed to me. Overall, I really enjoyed this and hope this isn’t the last we see of Colleen Hoover’s foray into romantic suspense.

Have you read this or plan to? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger: book review

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Published July 3, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
341 Pages
Affiliate Link : Buy From Amazon

From PublisherOn an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind. Ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau is engaged to Grant Ellis whose father is set to run for President of the US. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home…

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I’ll admit, when I first came across this title I assumed it was another domestic psychological “wife” thriller (although one with a great cover). The Banker’s Wife , however, was not at all what I expected. I knew from the opening scene in the London airport that this financial thriller was not only going to keep me on my toes, but it had such an international flair and hint of conspiracy and secrets to come that I couldn’t wait to find out more. 

We first meet Marina, an investigative journalist for Press magazine, whose fiancé’s father is close to securing the bid for the next US Presidential election. Although she’s been contemplating quitting the further immersed she gets in the upper echelon of New York society, she’s enticed by her editor to help gather secret evidence from a source in Paris. What follows propels Marina into an investigation of a top Swiss Bank, Swiss United, which may or may not have close US ties. From there we get to be flies on the wall, immersed in the secrets and scandals that cross the globe.

The story alternates perspectives between Marina and Annabel, whose husband Matthew is missing after his plane goes down in the Swiss Alps. Matthew is a banking executive with Swiss United (can you start to see the threads?) and it’s not long before Annabel is questioning not only what happened to her husband’s plane but also if she really knew her husband. 

I was equally invested in both these smart, sophisticated, take control women and the way Alger structured the novel, with lightening paced chapters that combined phenomenal dialogue with increasing tension, was just brilliant. Seriously, I felt like I was watching a movie while reading this book, if that makes sense? It is one of the most cinematic, globe trotting novels I’ve ever read, taking us to Switzerland, Paris, London, and New York.  I could picture each place and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how all the little threads were connected…or not. Some advice though, this is a close reading type of story where details can be missed, especially in the second half where a few more characters were introduced. I had to really pay attention so as to not feel confused. I highly recommend this intelligent, tightly plotted thriller if you’re looking for something original and fast paced. 

Many thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

Throwback Thursday Book of the Week

Throwback Thursday book of the week is a fun way to share a book I’ve loved that was published in the past and somehow either wasn’t on my radar or I chose to pass it by. These books are usually much easier to get ahold of at the library or usually sold at a lower price in paperback or ebook. This week I’m sharing a book I read in the spring and have been recommending to everyone ever since!

One True Loves  By Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published June 7, 2016 By Simon & Schuster
352 pages
Affiliate link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: A breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

My Thoughts: Last year I think I was one of the last people to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (my review) which ended up being one of my favorite books in 2017! It wasn’t until this past spring that I decided to try Reid’s backlist books.  Once I dived into this one I was -again- kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book!  It’s the story of Emma and Jesse and Emma and Sam. Yes, a love triangle, but it felt very original.

The book is structured in a way that we get to know how both love stories develop over the first half of the book and then what happens when they are all brought together for the second half. It may sound a little clunky but believe me the structure and the concept work. I was completely sucked into the story after the drama filled opening pages.  I did, however, feel a little loss of momentum when she takes us back in time to their high school lives but this was necessary to truly get a feel for each of them and how they fell in love. I flew through the second half of this book because what a complicated, truly gut punching position for Emma to be in…I had to know who she would choose and what happened after she made her choice. Reid writes in such a realistic, propulsive way that the people and their complicated situations feel real and it’s just SO hard to put her books down. I read this in one sitting and really loved it so even if you think you’re not in the mood for a love triangle, I say give this a try,  you just might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Have you read and enjoyed this or other books by Taylor Jenkins Reid? 

Happy Thursday Reading! 

 

Bookreview: Ghosted By Rosie Walsh

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Published July 24, 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books 

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

Book Quote – “I wondered how it was that you could spend weeks, months – years, even – just chugging on, nothing really changing, and then, in the space of a few hours, the script of your life could be completely rewritten.”

 

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I feel very conflicted about this review! I was dying to read this book, not only because I feel like everyone has been ghosted at some point in their lives, but I was also really intrigued about why he ghosted her. If they were in love as we’re pretty much told right from the start that they are, did he (Eddie) get killed? Was he kidnapped? Was he really a criminal? Did he have a secret family somewhere and got cold feet? Or was she (Sarah) reading the whole thing wrong and perhaps a little off? So many questions and I was completely on board with finding out the answers.

For all the above questions, I was initially very pulled into the beginning of the story but it wasn’t long before I realized the structure wasn’t quite what I expected. We’re basically told in shorter vignettes…Day 1, Day 2…etc (interspersed with present day & letters to someone?) about how Eddie and Sarah met and the development of their insta-love. I have to say, I’m ok with insta-love BUT I need to feel invested and connected with the characters and I just didn’t with these two. For me, the short time we spend with them in each section felt forced, I didn’t believe in their connection let alone the fact they were supposed to be in love so quickly; therefore, I had a very hard time with Sarah’s complete obsession and basic meltdown when he never called.

But here’s the weird thing….I read this straight through, staying up super late to find out what happened. So on the one hand it’s compulsively readable; on the other, I also did quite a bit of skimming…of the abundance of scenery details as well as the side characters’ stories because I just really wanted to know WHAT HAPPENED TO EDDIE!! I won’t say more about whether I was satisfied with the outcome as I’m still figuring out what I think about a few of the twists the author surprised me with. Rosie Walsh is definitely a talented author who can weave interesting surprises in her story.

If your interest is piqued, I highly encourage you to not read a bunch of reviews or even any more of the blurb, just jump right in and see for yourself what you think….and then come back here or send me a message on Twitter or Instagram and let’s discuss!!

 

 

ALL YOUR PERFECTS By Colleen Hoover: REVIEW

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Published July 17th by Atria Books

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people

*****

Hi Everyone, I know it’s been awhile and I’ll be back soon with a summer update on what I’ve been reading but for now I wanted to share my review for this fantastic new release by one of my new favorite authors…

Back in April I had gushed about Colleen Hoover’s books and I have to say, I still feel that there’s something so quietly addictive to the way she tells a story. You just know you’re going to become immersed in the character’s lives and for better or worse she’s going to put those characters through the ringer and perhaps break your heart in the process. All Your Perfects is no exception. In it, she takes a long, intricate look at marriage and what happens when people and circumstances change over the course of time. We meet Quinn and Graham who’re brought together in the unlikeliest of circumstances when their lives just so happen to take unexpected turns at the same time. Fate seems to have intervened for them and we get to watch their story unfold with a Then and Now narrative. I’m not always a fan of this type of back and forth narrative but in Hoover’s hands it works and it works well. I actually think this style of narrative works so well for this particular story because we get to see how their love began (Then) along with how it’s falling apart (Now) and this created so much emotional suspense for me that I had to keep turning the pages to see how it all turned out.

Hoover tackles some serious subjects in this story…infertility, infidelity, the evolution of love, sex…all within a marriage that at times seems on the brink of destruction with two people so often in despair. It was compelling storytelling to say the least. What I also found so fascinating was Hoover’s ability to create characters who could at times be so frustrating while also pulling at your heartstrings. Needless to say, I read this in one sitting and I won’t be giving away any plot details because what I’ve discovered about reading Colleen Hoover’s books is half the fun is going into her stories blind. You know you’re going to be surprised in some way and she certainly doesn’t disappoint with this new novel. I still feel like It Ends With Us is my favorite of those I’ve read by her but this is definitely right up there with it. 

Many thanks to Atria Books via Netgalley for my copy

REVIEW: THE BROKEN GIRLS By Simone St. James

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Publication March 20, 2018 By Berkley

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

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The beginning of this story completely pulled me in…a young girl, alone, on a dark road road near woods…when all of sudden she’s no longer alone! What an atmospheric, dramatic start to a story that was just outright creepy in parts. As stated in the blurb, the novel alternates between the girl’s boarding school in 1950 and Fiona’s life in 2014. Fiona actually has ties to the school as her sister was murdered in the field surrounding the school. The question that has taken over Fiona’s life is: what really happened to her sister on the night she was murdered all those years ago? There were no witnesses, no footprints, no evidence at the scene, yet her boyfriend was tried and convicted…did he really kill her or was there a more sinister force behind her death?

Then we have the storyline from 1950 and the four roommates who became best friends until one of them vanishes. For the first half of the book, I was slightly more interested in this storyline as the boarding school was just plain creepy and I really liked the girls; I felt bad for each of them. The author did a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere of gloom, dread, and eeriness. I felt worried for the girls. I was actually much more invested in the girls’ story than I was Fiona’s, mainly because I found Fiona hard to like or relate to. Things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for her.

I found the first half of the book to be much faster paced than the second half. I’m not sure exactly how or why my reading shifted but it did and I found myself skimming scenes along with losing my ability to “believe” the ghost story. For me, a little ghost goes a long way and in the second half the ghost story became a bit over the top for me. I was surprised by the resolution to the girls’ story from 1950, much more so than Fiona’s which was resolved way too easily and predictably in my opinion. Overall, this was a stronger first half story for me. If you enjoy atmospheric ghost stories with alternating timelines and subtle mysteries then definitely give this a try.

Many thanks to Berkley via Netgalley for my copy

REVIEW: BACHELOR NATION By Amy Kaufman

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Publication March 6, 2018 by Dutton

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon.

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My secret is out….I’m a Bachelor Fan! Of course, my immediate family and a few friends know I love The Bachelor and Bachelorette shows but it’s not something I regularly admit to watching. I know I’m not alone since I’ve been seeing comments for this book pop up on Goodreads from others who start off by saying The Bachelor is their guilty pleasure show. And a secret. Well, Amy Kaufman has now put our #BachelorNation obsession into coherent words with her engaging, witty book. Seriously, how has this show continued season after season, weathering controversy and drama and still manages to bring in millions of viewers each episode?? Amy has your answers.

Friends, I have to say this up front…I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I read it in one sitting on a Friday evening with a large glass of wine and I had the best time. As someone who’s watched the show since Trista and Ryan’s season, so the 2nd season and they’re now on season 35 I believe, I absolutely loved reading about how the show was created (a fluke) and the very interesting behind the scenes details about it’s creators. Amy Kaufman had behind the scenes access to the show for many years until one day it vanished and she was deemed banned from all things Bachelor…makes you say hmmm. I loved her interviews with past contestants and her inside scoop on how the episodes are actually made. I always wondered how the producers were working behind the scenes to get the girls and guys to SAY some of the things that come out of their mouths…now I know and truly I’ll never watch the show the same.

What I especially liked was Amy’s writing and her ability to keep the pace fast and the tone upbeat. I never felt that the book ventured into gossip territory; rather, I found her writing to be intelligent and informative. The only part that I sort of breezed through was the chapter on the history of reality dating shows but I appreciate the background info she was providing to put The Bachelor of today into context. If you’re a fan, secret or otherwise, of The Bachelor/Bachelorette I think you’ll absolutely enjoy this book!

Many thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy