STANDALONE SUNDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is:

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Published January 2016 by Harper

My Rating 3.5/5 Stars

In this breakout standalone novel of suspense in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on a Train, a woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder—but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Twenty years ago she ruined his life. Now she has the chance to save it.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife Molly by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him —and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him? 

******

I almost didn’t read this book because of the worn out marketing ploy comparing it to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, only one of which (Gone Girl) I really liked. For more on the topic of books being overly hyped check out Jen’s post yesterday at jenmedsbookreviews.comI tend to be disappointed in every book that’s compared to either of those. However, I really like Alafair Burke so my enjoyment of her other books (All Day and A Night for one) won out for this read.

Overall, I really liked this book. The premise is great, as well as the setting and the narrative structure. It all worked. You might be wondering why I didn’t give this book 4 or 5 stars then? Well, it was a solid 4 star book until the resolution and I realized I had it  figured out….correctly. That almost never happens and I may be being too harsh in my rating, but if I have theories woven together in my head as to the who, how, why of the mystery and I end up being correct, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. You see, I don’t really want to be correct, at least not fully; I want the author to pull the rug out from under me and/or throw in a twist that leads somewhere I wasn’t expecting. Too high of expectations? Possibly. But most of the time in the mysteries and thrillers I read this is exactly what happens. All in all, I know I really don’t have that good of detective skills, I think I just got lucky on this one.  Hopefully you’ll decide to give this a try, it’s a great book to put your own detective skills to work.  And you really can’t go wrong when Alafair Burke’s the author. Happy Reading!

STANDALONE SUNDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads  where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is:

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Published March 2007 by Delacorte Press

My Rating: 5 Stars

Life changes in an instant. On a foggy beach. In the seconds when Abby Mason—photographer, fiancée soon-to-be-stepmother—looks into her camera and commits her greatest error. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and beautifully told, here is the riveting tale of a family torn apart, of the search for the truth behind a child’s disappearance, and of one woman’s unwavering faith in the redemptive power of love—all made startlingly fresh through Michelle Richmond’s incandescent sensitivity and extraordinary insight.

Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.

Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. 

******

When I decided to pick this book for the standalone feature, I went back to Goodreads to grab the blurb and I was really shocked to see the lower ratings average for this book. Although if you look closer, there’s thousands of ratings and reviews so it makes sense that there’s going to be people who rate this lower than others. Especially because of the subject matter. I would just encourage those of you who love mysteries and suspense to give this a try. I thought the writing was excellent and I literally couldn’t put this book down until I found out what happened to little Emma. So I’d definitely say this is a one sit read. Also, I cut out part of the Goodreads blurb as I felt it gave too much of the plot away. I suggest that you not read all of the blurb and just go into this knowing only the above. Happy Sunday Reading!!

STANDALONE SUNDAY: THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU By Jonathan Tropper

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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Published August 2009 by Orion

My Rating: 5 Stars

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.

******

This book gets the award for the only book I’ve ever read that made me laugh so hard I cried! There’s lots of hysterical movies out there that have made me laugh that hard but for a BOOK to do that, that’s some outstanding writing in my opinion. I’ve already re-read this book once and probably will again in the future when I need a good pick me up. In regards to the movie based on this book, while I loved Jason Bateman as Judd, I don’t think the movie came close to being as good as the book. Isn’t that usually the case though? If you’re in the mood to laugh but also be touched by this crazy family, give this book a try.

Has anyone else read this one? I’d love to hear your thoughts as well as any books you’ve all read that made you laugh 

STANDALONE SUNDAY:THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE By Lou Berney

standalone-sunday

 

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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Published Feb 2015 by William Morrow

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them? 

******

The interesting thing that drew me to this novel was the lettering of the title. That may sound weird but I remember scrolling through Bookbub’s daily deals one day and the style of this title as well as the title itself just caught my eye. I find it so interesting to think think about what draws us in or repels us as far as titles and book covers go. I had never heard of this author but once I read the book’s description I was sold. I loved the idea of two mysteries being set in the summer of the late 1980’s. I have to tell you, not only is this an excellent crime story, it’s beautifully written.  The characters and setting felt real as his writing puts you there, in that movie theatre and at the county fair.  I really believe you’ll be hard pressed to put this one down once you start reading as Berney’s writing compels you to want to find out what happened that long ago summer. He expertly shifts perspectives between Wyatt and Julianna as well as between past and present. This book was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015 and I’d say if you love crime fiction with intriguing mysteries and you haven’t yet read this one, I think you’ll want to put this at the top of your TBR.

STANDALONE SUNDAY:SECOND LIFE By SJ Watson

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at  Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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Published June 9 2015 by Harper

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

The sensational new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep …She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger. She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything. She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control. She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin. She’s living two lives. She might lose both …

 

 

This might be one of the only psychological thrillers I’ve given a 5 star rating to! While I oftentimes like them I don’t usually love them but this one I did as it was excellent. I thought the writing was great, the premise enticing and the plot moved right along at a fast pace, keeping me engaged and quickly turning the pages. And the ending…unlike so many on Goodreads I actually found it to be perfect for the story. This book hasn’t gotten a lot of love on Goodreads which is so surprising to me. I actually thought this book was much better than Before I Go To Sleep which wasn’t one of my favorites. If you like psychological thrillers, I think this is one you should definitely put on your TBR…maybe even at the very top!

 

STANDALONE SUNDAY: JOYLAND by Stephen King

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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From Goodreads

My Rating 4.5 Stars

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.

A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old—and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time—Joyland is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all of the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, Joyland is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.

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I really want to do a post soon that centers on books I have loved that I almost didn’t read because of the title and/or cover; Joyland would be included on that post. Even though I really like Stephen King, I passed by this book for so long when it first came out because it reminded me of a comic book with that cover and title. When I finally opened it and started reading…I can only let a Stephen King pass by me for so long without at least giving it a try…I was VERY pleasantly surprised!  This is most definitely a mystery and coming-of-age story. The setting is a coastal North Carolina town and Joyland is an amusement park from days gone by. Things happen at Joyland for sure but not in a gory horror way.  This really is an emotional mystery story, and highlights one of the things I love about Stephen King…he can truly write unexpected stories in a multitude of genres.

 

STANDALONE SUNDAY: THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a feature created by Megan at  Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you can feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend! There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! Be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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My Rating: 4. Stars

From Goodreads

A funny, poignant and revealing novel that’s become a huge word-of-mouth hit in the US.

How do you prove you’re not an alcoholic?

Hildy Good has reached that dangerous time in a woman’s life – middle-aged and divorced, she is an oddity in her small but privileged town. But Hildy isn’t one for self-pity and instead meets the world with a wry smile, a dark wit and a glass or two of Pinot Noir. When her two earnest grown-up children stage ‘an intervention’ and pack Hildy off to an addiction centre, she thinks all this fuss is ridiculous. After all, why shouldn’t Hildy enjoy a drink now and then?

But as the story progresses, we start to see another side to Hildy Good, and to her life’s greatest passion – the lies and self deceptions needed to support her drinking, and the damage she causes to those she loves. When a cluster of secrets become dangerously entwined, the reckless behaviour of one threatens to expose the other, with devastating consequences

I just read this book in the spring and there’s so many reasons I loved it but one of the biggest is Hildy.  Her character is funny, witty and very charming,  yet while getting to know her and being privy to her slow unraveling, you begin to feel that Hildy’s life is a train that’s quite possibly nearing the point of derailment. And here’s what that blurb above is missing…this story has a fantastic mystery at it’s heart, one I couldn’t figure out until the author skillfully revealed the answer. Although the story centers on Hildy, there’s a great cast of supporting characters that will intrigue you and keep you turning the pages until you find out how they all intertwine…cue the derailment image!

STANDALONE SUNDAY: A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you can feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend! There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! Be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

MY PICK

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5 STARS

GOODREADS BLURB

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

This was my last official read of 2015. I started it the day after Christmas and was consumed by it for the next 4 days straight! This isn’t a book that would typically cross my radar but after listening to a podcast talk it up,  having a trusted book friend highly recommend it and it was short-listed for the Manbooker, I had to give it a try. That being said, this book may not be for everyone. There are some extremely hard to read about issues in this book…child abuse, self-harm. And the first 200 pages will have you questioning whether anything actually happens in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I kept reading because I liked getting to know these friends but I wanted something to happen! Rest assured, about that point in the book things will take a dark turn and you (most likely) will not put this book down until you know how it all will turn out for these friends. For me, this was ultimately a story about the healing power of friendship and love but also one of resilience and letting go. Have your tissues ready and, if you’re like me, be prepared for a super book hangover after reading this one.