Review: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

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Official Synopsis:

On their first date back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke bonded over drinks, dinner and whether they could get away with murder. Now married, they’ll put the latter to the test when an unchecked danger in their community places their son in jeopardy. Working as a criminal defense attorney, Nat refuses to rely on the broken legal system to keep her family safe. She knows that if you want justice…you have to get it yourself.

Shocked to discover Nat’s taken matters into her own hands, Will has no choice but to dirty his, also. His family is in way too deep to back down now. He’s just not sure he recognizes the woman he married. Nat’s always been fiercely protective, but never this ruthless or calculating. With the police poking holes in their airtight plan, what will be the first to fall apart: their scandalous secret—or their marriage?

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

For Better and Worse will be available December 11, 2018. 

I’m going to preface this review by saying my expectations may have been a little off for this book. I was expecting a fun, twisty story of a husband and wife team doing some very bad things, in the vein of (the far superior) My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. However, For Better and Worse was neither fun nor twisty. It was a heavy, somber, and agonizingly slow paced tale of two unlikable people trying to get away with something and at the end of the day I really didn’t care if they managed it or not.

The story starts with Natalie and Will in law school on a date where the topic of how to get away with a murder comes up. Flash forward seventeen years and they’re married with a kid. When their son’s principal – and family friend – is put on leave due to accusations of abuse, Natalie decides it may be time to put their idea for the perfect murder into action. Will doesn’t exactly agree, but that’s not going to stop Nat, or keep him from getting involved.

Nat and Will were both really unlikable. Natalie was the too-smart-for-her-own-good control freak and Will was the put upon husband that looks for validation elsewhere. At no point in this whole book did I find myself rooting for either of them. They were bad spouses, parents, and people in general. I also expected a lot more from them in the “perfect murder” department. Natalie acts like she’s so smart and has covered all the angles, but she barely makes any plans and the plans she does make are anything but fool-proof. They honestly deserved to be caught.

The outcome of the investigation is anti-climatic and unbelievable. It kind of irritated me, to be honest. The very ending has something that I guess is supposed to be kind of a twist, but I found it predictable and lackluster.

Overall, I just didn’t care for For Better and Worse. Perhaps if I had different expectations going in I would have felt differently, but I don’t think so. With the slow pace, unlikable characters, and all too convenient ending, I think this book just failed to live up to it’s potential. However, I have read some really great reviews on this one, so it might just be me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

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Review from Goodreads:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

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

The Hiding Place will be available February 5, 2019. 

What Worked For Me

-I’m a big fan of Tudor’s writing style. I love the banter, the dark humor, the well-executed multiple timelines. Even though I felt like the pacing was a little too slow for much of the book, I still wanted to keep reading. There’s just something compelling about it.

-Joe. Joe was not exactly a likable character, but I actually liked him a lot. He comes across as an underdog and how can you not root for the underdog? I loved his sense of humor, even it was kind of dark. He’s had a lot of bad things happen in his life and I liked that even though he kept making a lot of bad decisions and was pretty cynical, he still had a sense of hopefulness.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-So, you all know how much I hate it when a surprise supernatural element pops up in a story. I go from reading a believable mystery/thriller to something I can’t take seriously. I honestly think this would work much better marketed as Horror instead of Mystery. I mentally just put it in the Horror category and so it didn’t bother me as much as something like this normally would.

-While there were some surprises at the end of the book, I didn’t really see the point in some of them. It’s hard to explain it without getting spoilery, but I really felt like what happened in Arnhill when Joe was young and why he’s back were the heart of the story, and tacking on an extra reveal at the end that you didn’t even realize you were supposed to be trying to figure out seemed unnecessary.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Hiding Place. I liked the writing and the characters – namely Joe. However, the supernatural angle and the unnecessary final twist did sour me a bit. Still, I think fans of Tudor’s previous work will enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…
 
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

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

My Lovely Wife will be available March 26, 2019.

Well, this story was delightfully messed up. My Lovely Wife is compulsively readable with an anti-hero you know you shouldn’t root for, but still do.

This was definitely a fun variation on the serial killer novel. Here the killers are a husband and wife team, though they’re a little lacking on the team aspect. They both have secrets from each other and at various times throughout the story you will be trying to figure out just which one is more sinister. While I did think a lot of things were pretty obvious and was not really surprised with how it all ended up, it did have a couple of nice little reveals throughout that kept me on my toes.

One thing I thought was kind of odd is that we are never told the husband’s name. The story is told through his first person POV and I honestly didn’t even notice his real name was never mentioned until I sat down to write this review and couldn’t remember it. This is not the first book I’ve come across that doesn’t share the main character’s name and I have to admit that I just don’t understand what the impact is supposed to be? Maybe it’s supposed to make me identify more with the character?

Overall, I enjoyed My Lovely Wife. This is one of those books where I don’t feel like I can share too much more than I already have without really starting to give things away. I liked the main character, even though he was very messed up and I knew I shouldn’t. He still managed to be just empathetic enough that I could almost overlook the bad things he’s done. I liked the focus on the family and how the parents’ actions were impacting their children. While the mystery may not shock seasoned readers of the genre, I think the compulsive writing and interesting characters will still make this an enjoyable read.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

November 2018 Recap

autumn leaves                                                                                                                                                     this is soo pretty

November was a whirlwind. My first month at the new job is in the books. It’s been stressful. I kind of underestimated my aversion to new things and new people and leaving an agency I had a long history with and co-workers I’ve known for over a decade to a place where I didn’t know anyone has been more challenging than I thought it would be. However, the people are nice and I really like my boss. I’m looking forward to the day when I know what I’m doing everyday. I had a nice Thanksgiving. I got to spend it with my niece (who will be turning one this month) and she is just so sweet and fun.

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I also got to see Adriana Trigiani speak in November. She came to one of the branches in our library district and my boss asked me if I wanted to come with her when she stopped by the event. (This is the type of thing I expected when I envisioned working at a library.) We could only stay for an hour because we had meetings back at the office, but I’m so glad I got to go see her. She was a trip. I haven’t read any of her books before, but I’m definitely going to check some out.

Books Read: 10

Adult: 7
YA: 3

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

  Books Reviewed: 5

On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge Romance #3) by Denise Hunter – 4/5 Stars

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick – 3.5/5 Stars

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – 4/5 Stars

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren – 4/5 Stars

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – 4/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 137

Funny Fridays:

#BookishQouteOfTheDay #Books #Reading

November 2

#BookishQouteOfTheDay #Books #Reading

November 9

#BookishQouteOfTheDay #Books #Reading

November 16

This is me

November 23

Other Posts:

October 2018 Recap + Life Updates + It’s My Birthday!

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books I Want to Read

Top 5 Wednesday: Largest Books on my TBR

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I want to read before 2019

Top 5 Wednesday: Bookbloggers/Book Friends I’d Want at Friendsgiving

Reviewing the Unreviewed: November 2018

Book News

The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern is publishing her second book!!

The Night Circus is one of my favorite books of all time and I have been very impatiently waiting for Erin Morgenstern to write another book. And now she finally has! The Starless Sea will be published in November 2019 and I have zero chill about it.

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown publishing date pushed back (again)

You should all know by now what a fan I am of the Red Rising series. This 5th book in the series was originally supposed to come out last year, but got pushed back because Iron Gold ended up being pushed back. It was supposed to come out in February 2019, but it was announced recently that it will now be released in July 2019. While I am disappointed, I trust Pierce Brown to know when it’s ready to go and will anxiously wait.