Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

43299266. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?

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

The Wives will be available December 30, 2019. 

Tarryn Fisher is a very popular author with many of the bloggers I follow. Despite the overwhelming hype, this is only the second book I’ve read by her. While I can’t dispute that she is a good writer, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that her books just aren’t for me.

I find the idea of voluntary polygamy kind of fascinating. I would sometimes watch shows like Sister Wives and Big Love and never be able to understand why these women would agree to such an arrangement. I was hoping for some more insight into the whole thing, but the only answer the main character, Thursday, really gives is that she loves Seth and polygamy is the only way to be with him. I suppose worse things have been done in the name of love. We also don’t really get to see any of the sister wives dynamic I was hoping for since they are not supposed to interact.

The story mostly focuses on how Thursday has become unhappy with her one day a week arrangement. She decides to investigate the other wives behind Seth’s back. For about the first half of the book we just see Thursday being lonely and paranoid and obsessively investigating. I thought this part of the story drug out for way too long and it felt like just another domestic suspense story of a crazy woman and a lying man. It did start to shift into something else, though, and became more of a psychological suspense. Fisher did do a good job of making me question what was real and what was delusion, but at the end of the day, it left me pretty underwhelmed.

Overall, The Wives was just ok for me. Other than the plural marriage angle, there wasn’t much to set it apart from the same type of story I’ve read countless times before. While the book wasn’t really for me, I have seen many other favorable reviews for it and I’m sure Fisher’s fans will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Map from Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2) by Emery Lord

42972032

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

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

The Map from Here to There will be available January 7, 2020. 

I noticed that I shelved The Map from Here to There as “To-Read” on Goodreads back in September 2017. I was lucky enough to get an ARC and read this in September 2019. That is a long time to anticipate the book and hype it up. I wish I could say it met my very high expectations, but, unfortunately, it did not. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of enjoyable moments. One of the things I loved about The Start of Me and You were the strong friendships and they were still on display here. Yes, there was some drama and fights, but they worked through them and were always there for each other. There were several funny, bantery moments that I enjoyed, as well. I also liked that Paige’s parents were a strong presence in the book.

There was a lot in this book that didn’t work for me, though. Paige had a lot of issues to work through in the first book and by the end she was starting to figure it out. Instead of her continuing to progress, she had a major relapse back into anxiety and it kind of made all the lessons learned in the first book obsolete. I did find the anxiety stuff relatable, but I would have rather seen Paige continue to grow, instead of spending the majority of yet another book as a mess (and still not communicating it) and then finally growing in the final couple chapters.

Some of the problems I had with this book are probably more my fault than the books, though. I wanted a cute book of Max and Paige being adorable together. Yes, I knew there would have to be some strife, but I thought (hoped) it would be a small part of the plot. Instead, we got very few scenes with them together, unless they were fighting. Paige treated him so, so unfairly and it drove me crazy. He was patient and understanding for awhile, but eventually reached a breaking point where he didn’t handle things well. There is a new character introduced – Paige’s co-worker at the movie theater – that Paige hung out with and talked to like she did Max in the first book. He was also there to stir some jealousy and insecurity in Max. And once that role was played out, we don’t really hear any more about him. Which annoyed me because even though I didn’t like his purpose in the story, he was sweet and funny and I liked him. But back to my original point, the story was much more about the anxiety about growing up and making hard decisions and dealing with change. And this made me feel a little too old for the story. As a cynical adult who has never had a job that utilized her college degree, nor is no longer friends with any of the people she was close to in high school and college, these major crises the characters faced felt a little trivial. I do remember being in high school and thinking these decisions were life and death, so I get it, but I’m just so far past that, that it was kind of hard to take so seriously. I also am not a fan of open-ended conclusions. The biggest focus of the book is where Paige will go to college and the story ends without a definitive answer and that kind of pissed me off.

Another thing that bugged me is that Tess and Ryan aren’t together. I felt it was very heavily implied in the first book that they would get together. I thought her whole arc in the story was how she was all closed off due to her abandonment issues with her parents, but Ryan slowly won her over. Instead, the author decided to fix the lack of LGBT+ diversity from the first book by giving Tessa a girlfriend instead. Not only did I not even get a hint of this in the first book, but it basically skips over the whole coming out part of the book by referencing how it happened in the summer, conveniently between the end of book one and start of book two. Don’t misunderstand, I support a more diverse cast of characters, but it annoyed me to see Tessa with anyone but Ryan.

Overall, The Map from Here to There was just ok for me. I enjoyed parts of it, but had a lot of issues with it, as well. I liked the first book much more, but I think people in the actual target audience age range will appreciate this book much more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Reputation by Sara Shepard

45735323

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this fast-paced new novel from Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, a tight-knit college town scrambles for answers when an e-mail hack reveals life-changing secrets and scandals.

Aldrich University is rocked to its core when a hacker dumps 40,000 people’s e-mails—the entire faculty, staff, students, alums—onto an easily searchable database. Rumors and affairs immediately leak, but things turn explosive when Kit Manning’s handsome husband, Dr. Greg Strasser, is found murdered. Kit’s sister, Willa, returns for the funeral, setting foot in a hometown she fled fifteen years ago, after a night she wishes she could forget. As an investigative reporter, Willa knows something isn’t right about the night Greg was killed, and she’s determined to find the truth. What she doesn’t expect is that everyone has something to hide. And with a killer on the loose, Willa and Kit must figure out who killed Greg before someone else is murdered.

Told from multiple points of view, Reputation is full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals. It’s a story of intrigue, sabotage, and the secrets we keep—and how far we go to keep them hidden. Number one bestseller Sara Shepard is at the top of her game in this brand-new adult novel.

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

Reputation will be available December 3, 2019. 

When it comes to reading a Sara Shepard book, I definitely expect some soapy, crazy drama and Reputation did not disappoint on that front.

The story follows the POVs of 5 women: Kit, Willa, Raina, Laura, and Lynn. It may sound like a lot of characters to keep track of, but I think Shepard did a really good job with it. Often times with this many characters I find I only like a couple and get frustrated when the POVs switch away from them, but I didn’t have that problem here. While I didn’t necessarily like all of these women, I enjoyed watching some of the petty drama play out. When that started to get a little much, it was balanced out with the development of the mystery. While I didn’t find the reveal of Greg’s killer to be all that surprising, there were definitely a good amount of red herrings that kept me guessing.

While the story did start out pretty strong for me, it seemed to lose steam a bit for awhile in the middle. Parts of it dragged on for a little longer than necessary and once some of the red herrings were revealed to be just that, I started to lose a little bit of interest in some of the storylines. I was also hoping for some kind of scandalous twist in the end, but it ends kind of quietly with basically everyone getting their version of happily-ever-after. It also tacked on some #MeToo lessons with a pretty heavy hand towards the end that I thought could have been incorporated a little more organically than it was.

Overall, I enjoyed Reputation. I have been in a bit of a book rut lately and this was the first one in awhile that I looked forward to picking up again every time I had to put it down. Though it did feel a little long in parts and it didn’t end as dynamically as I hoped, I enjoyed the soapy drama and I also liked how the mystery played out. I look forward to reading more from Shepard in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci

43822747. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

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

Meet Me on Love Lane will be available December 10, 2019. 

What I Liked

-I’m obsessed with that cover! I think it just screams Fall, which is my favorite season. I’m just going to ignore the fact that this book mostly takes place in the Summer and not the Fall, though…

-I love the small town setting. I wish Hope Lake was real because I would totally move there. I loved how close the residents are and how they support each other.

-I liked seeing the characters from the the first book again. We get to know Henry and Nick a little better in this installment and I am looking forward to Nick’s story next.

-I liked Charlotte’s relationship with her father and grandmother. Her grandmother was kind of crazy and unrealistic, but she brought a lot of comic relief that I enjoyed.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-While I liked Henry and Charlotte, I never really felt their chemistry. We were supposed to rely on their childhood friendship to support their strong feelings in the present, but we only get one scene with them as children, which Charlotte doesn’t even remember, and they haven’t seen each other in twenty years. It just wasn’t enough for me to buy it. I could’ve used more development.

-After Charlotte was made to move away, she completely blocked out everything from her childhood. Honestly, this was a little hard to believe. I felt like the really traumatic part of her life was living alone with her mother in New York and blocking out those memories would have made more sense.

-There was a lot of repetition in the writing. Take a shot every time Charlotte says “You’re not wrong” and you will quickly become too drunk to keep reading.

-The whole subplot with almost dating Dr. Max didn’t really accomplish anything. It was barely a love triangle, which isn’t my favorite romantic trope anyways, and it just didn’t work for me.

Overall

Overall, Love Me on Love Lane was just ok for me. I did like the characters and loved the small town setting. However, the pacing felt very slow, I was never really sold on the romance, and most of the big plot points didn’t work for me. That said, I still plan on reading the next book in the series because I like Nick.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Blitzed (Playbook #3) by Alexa Martin

44512841

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can’t best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he’s worth. She doesn’t care if he’s a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she’s not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn’t matter if he brings more customers to her business–she’s still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He’d been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can’t. He can’t tell anyone, so he’ll make amends and hope she’ll forgive him.

Brynn’s not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn’t impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

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

Blitzed will be available December 3, 2019. 

I’ve really enjoyed the other books in the Playbook series and while I did like Blitzed, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the others were.

I have been looking forward to Brynn’s story for awhile now. I was glad we finally got to learn a little more about her, but she wasn’t as likable as I expected her to be. She was really hardworking and dedicated to her job and cared a lot about her friends and father, which are all good characteristics. But I also found her kind of shallow, materialistic, and a little pervy. She also had kind of extreme reactions to things that I found frustrating, especially when it came to the big final conflict. I found Maxwell more likable, but didn’t feel like we ever got to know him very well. I also liked seeing the characters from the previous books again, especially TK and Poppy.

There’s a bit of a mystery involving Maxwell’s relationship with his brother, Theo. Theo keeps popping up trying to find Maxwell and Maxwell just keeps telling Brynn not to talk to him. With how many times this is brought up, I thought the conclusion to that plotline deserved a little more attention than it got. It basically provided a couple chapter’s worth of unnecessary drama with Brynn and a small bit of commentary on a current social issue, and that’s it.

Overall, Blitzed was just ok for me. I did ship the romance between Brynn and Maxwell, but I wasn’t as into them as I were the other couples from previous books. This is still definitely worth the read for fans of the series, though, and I am looking forward to more from Martin.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

43575115. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

I am having such a hard time figuring out how I feel about this book. I’m just going to list it all out.

The Starless Sea was probably my most anticipated book of the year (I’m sure the same can be said for many of you, as well). In a year where most of my anticipated reads have left me terribly disappointed, I was super nervous to start it. However, I could tell right at the beginning that Morgenstern’s writing style was just as beautiful as I remembered it.

-The writing really was beautiful and magical and descriptive, all the things that helped make me fall in love with The Night Circus. There was just something missing for me, though. I think, despite how beautifully written it was, I never really got very invested in the story. It is a story within a story, within many stories. It’s hard to wrap my head around it and I’m not even going to try to explain it. The only parts I looked forward to were the chapters with Zachary Ezra Rawlins (his full name is used a lot). I kind of wanted to skim through all the other stories, but it didn’t take long to realize all the other stories were integral to the plot and you have to pay attention to them. Even if you don’t really understand some of them. Or maybe that’s just me?

-I did really like Zachary. I thought he was a very empathetic character and I was very interested to see what happened with him. However, he was the only character that I really cared about. Dorian was ok. Kat was ok, but seemed a little unnecessary? Allegra, Maribel, the Keeper, and the rest didn’t really do anything for me. I think my lack of connection with the characters kept me from having much of an emotional connection with the book.

-I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book. It seemed a little too long at times and also not quite long enough. I didn’t care for the ending. I felt like I needed a little more “this is what happened to Zachary Ezra Rawlins” than what we got. I liked it, but not as much as The Night Circus and not as much as I was expecting to. However, I will definitely read whatever Morgenstern writes next, even if it takes another 8 years.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Woman in the Water (DS Imogen Grey #6) by Katerina Diamond

46218421. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Sunday Times bestselling author of The Teacher and Truth or Die is back with a new twisty crime thriller

I’m alive. But I can’t be saved . . .

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed.

Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of Reece Corrigan, and when his wife Angela walks in, they immediately recognise her. She’s the woman from the river, with her injuries carefully masked.

The more they dig into the couple, the less they understand about them.

Why have people in their past been hurt, or vanished?

And why doesn’t Angela want to be saved?

Smart, shocking and twisty – perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Karin Slaughter.

Praise for Katerina Diamond:

‘All hail the new Queen of Crime’ Heat

‘Deliciously dark . . . Keeps her readers guessing throughout, as she leads us on a very secretive, VERY twisted journey’ Lisa Hall, author of The Party

‘Packed with twists until the last page’ Closer

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

Woman in the Water will be available November 11, 2019. 

I very eagerly anticipated the release of Truth or Die earlier this year and thought it would be another year before the next book in the series came out. I was super happy to discover that Woman in the Water was also publishing this year. While I did enjoy it, I have some mixed feelings about it, as well.

I don’t know if it’s because the book was maybe rushed to release this year or if it’s because of a new editor (in the Acknowledgments the author mentions a former editor, so I’m assuming the editor of this book was different than the others), but the quality didn’t seem quite as good as the other books in the series. The dialogue felt a little awkward sometimes, there was a lot of repetition, and the mystery left a little to be desired.

That said, I love Adrian and Imogen and I was just happy to spend time with them. I knew since they finally got together in the previous book that there would have to be something to throw a wrench into their relationship this time around. And there is. First, Adrian loses his head a bit during the investigation, as it brings up a lot of bad memories from his childhood. Then, he ends up having something very traumatic happen to him. It’s hard to talk about without having spoilers, but it was very hard to read and most the rest of the book focuses on him trying to come to terms with it. In true Adrian fashion, he deals with it in the least emotionally healthy way possible, which includes lying to Imogen and pushing her away. While that was frustrating, I do think Adrian’s reactions were authentic and it is definitely an important topic.

I thought the mystery was intriguing and had a lot of potential, but it kind of failed to reach it. We’re told over and over how evil Reece is and I kept expecting something big to be revealed, but he was kind of your run of the mill bad guy. We never really get the motivation behind his particular brand of villainy and the big reveal at the end seemed tacked on for shock value instead of being a satisfying or shocking twist.

Overall, I loved spending more time with Adrian and Imogen, but Woman in the Water was not my favorite book of the series. The subject matter of what happened with Adrian is important and I thought it was pretty well done, but I wish a little more development went into the central mystery. The story ends with some big changes going forward and I’m eager to see how those develop. Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much I hoped to, I’m still a big Katerina Diamond fan and can’t wait to read more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars