Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book. No explanation really needed. I’m sharing one book that fits with each category (click on the cover for my review or the Good Reads page).

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1. Fake Relationships.

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2. Positively Portrayed Christian Characters.

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3. A Big Twist.

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4. Unreliable Narrator.

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5. Multiple 1st Person POV

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6. An Appealing Cover.

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7. Friendship – to – Love.

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8. Jane Austen Re-Telling

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9. Banter.

Pierce Brown

10. Pierce Brown.

What are some things that make you instantly want to read a book?

Review: A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

The Spencer Hill Press release will have bonus content never before available.

Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard, and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

This version of A Different Blue with bonus material will be available May 30, 2017.

This book started out a little rough for me. I found Blue incredibly unlikable and mostly unrelatable. I was super bored with the history lessons and legends. And, most of all, I was uncomfortable with Blue’s growing relationship with her teacher. There were no big lines crossed or anything, but their friendship was still inappropriate for being teacher/student. Even though Wilson is only 22 (only a couple years older than Blue), he just seemed so much older and more mature. Thankfully, the book did become a lot better for me as it went on.

Once Blue graduated, I was much more able to get on board the Wilson-Blue ship. I started to really enjoy their friendship and slow burn romance. Wilson was so smart and sweet and protective. I loved him. He did seem just so much older than his age, though. I also really liked his sister, Tiffa, and her friendship with Blue.

I did really like the overall message of redemption and Blue’s journey. She became so much more likable as the book went on, even though there were still several moments where she frustrated me. I liked how she came to respect herself a little bit more and made conscious decisions to help her become a better person.

Overall, I liked A Different Blue, but I didn’t love it. While the overall message and the relationship between Wilson and Blue were good, it started out really rough for me. It also employed a couple of my least favorite romance tropes (teacher/student relationship and another one that I’m not going to share because it’s too spoilery). I was actually not a big fan of the bonus material – an epilogue featuring Blue and Wilson’s physical relationship and a chapter from Wilson’s POV from the first day of school. I liked getting Wilson’s POV, but hearing his initial reaction to Blue falls under the uncomfortable, inappropriate teacher/student thing. However, I am a fan of Harmon and her writing and am definitely planning on reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

I received an ARC from the publisher via a Good Reads Giveaway. This does not impact my review.

This is my first Lisa Scottoline book and it definitely won’t be my last. The writing was a good mix of mystery and character development and it was really hard to put down.

In the beginning of the book we meet Chris Brennan, who is interviewing for a teaching position. We find out right away that Chris isn’t his real name and all the details of his life he’s sharing are a lie. His plans are slowly unraveled, though we only learn the “what”, not the “why” in the “Step One” section of the book, which is broken up into three steps. I really enjoyed how much Chris’s actions creeped me out. Then there is a nice twist once we get to Step Two that I was not suspecting at all. I love when books can surprise me like that. The only problem is that I don’t really feel like I can talk about it because it would be a big spoiler and I would hate to take the surprise away from other readers. I’ll just say the mystery continues, though with a slightly different focus, and I enjoyed it, though it did seem a little unbelievable at times.

We also get the POV from three mother’s of the students/baseball players Chris initially targets. Mindy is wealthy, mother to popular Evan, and wife of a surgeon who she believes is cheating on her…again. Mindy was kind of hard to like, but as we got to know her more and see what she had to put up with at home I became more forgiving towards her. Susan is a bit of a workaholic, newly widowed, and her two sons are going off the rails a bit after the death of their father. I liked Susan’s overall character arc the most of the three women, but I didn’t always feel like her POV was relevant to the story. Heather is the underemployed single mother of Jordan, a shy kid who is new to varsity baseball, and develops a bit of a crush on Chris.

I thought it was an interesting choice to go with the POV of the mothers instead of their sons, which you think would be a little more relevant to Chris’s plans. However, I really liked it. It helped keep the kids a bit of a mystery while slowly revealing reasons from their home life why they might be the one Chris is looking for.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading One Perfect Lie. It had likable characters and a good mystery. There were a couple times it got a little unbelievable and the dialogue a little cheesy, but for the most part I thought the writing was really good. It might be more of a 3.5 for me, but because there were several surprises that I did not see coming I’m bumping it up to 4. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Perfect Stranger will be available April 11, 2017.

I think I went into The Perfect Stranger with the wrong expectations. I thought it was going to be really suspenseful and have a big twist. I spent my time trying to figure out what the big twist would be and I think in the process the smaller twists and turns of the story were not fully appreciated. This was a good mystery, but I still find myself slightly disappointed at the lack of thrill and suspense.

The book focused a lot on character development and thus the pace seemed a little slow to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-done character driven story and this definitely fits that description, but again, I wanted suspense and a quicker pace. While I wouldn’t categorize some passages as flashbacks, there is a lot of Leah explaining events from her past and things are revealed to the reader slowly. While I felt this was done effectively, the reveals were never really shocking enough to pull my focus off The Big Twist I was (mistakenly) waiting for. I think if you go into this just expecting what the synopsis tells you, you will find this a well done mystery.

I thought Leah was a pretty compelling character. Though the story is told from her 1st person POV, I never really felt like I could get a handle on her. Is she telling the truth? Is she just super paranoid? Is she secretly a sociopath? Is she in danger. Is she the danger? I still don’t know if I can say she was a likable character, but I don’t think that’s the point. The other characters were interesting, but I don’t feel like we got to know any of them well enough to really care about them one way or the other. I thought the relationship between Leah and Kyle was kind of messed up, but I can also see why it would work.

Overall, The Perfect Stranger was a good mystery, but I was left a little disappointed that it wasn’t as suspenseful or shocking as I was expecting. The mystery of Leah trying to figure out the truth about Emmy and the murders was well done, but there were some other side plots that I felt there were loose ends on. I found the ending a little anti-climactic, as well, and would have appreciated an epilogue. I do think fans of character-driven mysteries would really enjoy it, though, as long as that’s what they are expecting.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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