Review: Those People by Louise Candlish

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the international bestseller Our House, a new novel of twisty domestic suspense asks, “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him?” 

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying–and everyone has something to hide.

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

Those People will be available June 11, 2019. 

Those People started off very strong for me, but lost a little of it’s steam along the way. However, it was still a highly entertaining story that I enjoyed.

Who hasn’t had a horrible neighbor? As a long time renter, I’m used to sharing walls and ceilings and though I do get frequently frustrated, I have a pretty high tolerance for other people’s noise. There has only been one neighbor that was so awful I complained to management about, but it was nothing compared to what happened with the people on Lowland Way. The street is idyllic with neighbors that all know each other and get along. They even have a standing agreement to close off the street every Sunday so the kids can play without fear of cars. Everything gets turned upside down, though, when the Booths move in. They play loud music while working on noisy home renovations at all hours of the night and take up all the parking spots on the street with their questionably legal car business. They also don’t care at all what anybody else thinks of them. They are completely unapologetic about the mess and the noise they make or how it effects anyone else. This causes all the “sensible” people on the street to lose their minds a bit.

The story is told through multiple POVs, rotating mostly between Ralph, Tess, Ant, and Sissy. For about the first half of the book, each chapter begins with a short excerpt from a police interview. It gave me serious Big Little Lies vibes and I loved it. I loved seeing how the neighbors all interacted with each other and the gradual reveal of the mystery of who was killed. Where it started to lose momentum for me was after the victim was revealed and the investigation took over the focus. I wasn’t terribly surprised by any of the reveals after that and I felt it was a little longer than it really needed to be. What I did like, though, was seeing how the situation started to drive everyone to madness. It was fascinating seeing how different people reacted to the stress.

Overall, I enjoyed Those People. I loved the multiple POVs and the inclusion of the police interviews. I wish that format would have been kept up the whole way through. Though it did end up being a little longer than it needed to be and the little surprise at the end does not compare to the twist at the end of Our Houseit was still a really enjoyable and addictive read. I definitely look forward to more from Candlish.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

I received copies of this title via NetGalley and via a Goodreads giveaway. It does not impact my review.

Storm and Fury will be available June 11, 2019. 

I really enjoyed this. I must confess, I was never a huge fan of the original The Dark Elements series that this series spun-off from and I thought I would feel similarly about this one. However, it definitely surpassed my expectations.

I thought Trinity was a good main character. She frustrated me a little bit with her impulsiveness and argumentativeness, but she was a pretty classic JLA heroine. One thing that really made her stand out is that she’s dealing with a vision disability – Retinitis pigmentosa. It causes tunnel vision and a host of other vision problems and will most likely end in blindness. JLA has been diagnosed with this in real life and I have to imagine including this in a character was a bit cathartic, but also difficult. There are parts here and there when Trinity says something about it that I have seen JLA say on social media, so you know this character is very personal to her and it made her that much more special to read.

I also liked seeing Zayne again. I was Team Zayne in The Dark Elements series, even though I knew it was never going to happen, so I was happy to see him really start to move on a bit. I liked his banter with Trinity and his protectiveness of her. I also thought we got just the right amount of Roth and Layla. They’re around enough to make fans of the original series happy, while also contributing to the plot in a big way, but they don’t take the focus off of Trinity and Zayne.

At over 500 pages, I did think this book was a little too long, though. There is honestly not that much going on and I think it really could’ve been cut down a bit. However, there is lots of character development and I never felt bored or anything, despite the slow moving plot. There were several reveals saved until the end that I thought were pretty obvious much earlier in the book, but there was one big one that I hadn’t seen coming and I liked that it managed to surprise me.

Other than the length, there was only really one other thing I didn’t care for. I expect a little more mature content from a JLA book, but there is one scene that I thought was a little too explicit for YA. I could see that an argument could be made for this being New Adult instead of Young Adult since Trinity is 18 and Zane is a few years older, but everything else reads very much YA, so it still felt a little inappropriate.

Overall, I really enjoyed Storm and Fury. I thought it improved upon the original series it spun off from. I liked the characters and shipped the romance. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, a suspenseful new novel about an idyllic town in Maine dealing with the suspicious death of one of their own—and her best “summer” friend, who is trying to uncover the truth…before fingers point her way.

Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.

Another thrilling novel from the bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger, Megan Miranda’s The Last House Guest is a smart, twisty read with a strong female protagonist determined to make her own way in the world.

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

The Last House Guest will be available June 18, 2019. 

I’ve been reading a lot of Contemporary lately and have started getting a little bored with it. I wanted to change things up a bit and The Last House Guest was just the addictive mystery that I needed.

Megan Miranda’s writing is really addicting. Though there were times I thought it was a little repetitive and that she was trying maybe just a little too hard to create a creepy atmosphere, there is just something really compelling about her writing. Even when I figured things out much sooner than they were revealed, I had to keep reading.

The story is really character-driven, which I have come to expect from Miranda. This isn’t a fast-paced suspense, but there are plenty of small, impactful reveals along the way to keep you reading.  One of the “big” reveals towards the end of the book was my very first guess early on in the story. I thought it was so obvious that I was kind of annoyed that it took so long to come out. However, there was another twist soon after that I had only recently begun to suspect, so I liked that it was still able to surprise me a bit, even though I guessed most things.

When you’re reading a story so character-driven, the characters can really make or break the book. Fortunately, I found Avery likable enough. She had some issues, but she was compelling and I wanted to see good things happen for her. Where it lost me a bit was with Sadie’s character. Right from the start she comes across as the “poor, little rich girl” cliche. She acted out to get attention from her family. She was also calculating and it was pretty obvious to everyone but Avery that Sadie had an agenda when it came to her. It was really hard to care about whether Sadie was murdered or not. It was also kind of frustrating to see how much Avery cared about Sadie when the friendship did not mean the same to Sadie.

Overall, I did enjoy The Last House Guest. Even though the mystery was not as surprising as I hoped and I had a hard time caring about Sadie, I liked Avery and I found the writing really addictive and compelling. I never wanted to put the book down and that is why I’m bumping my rating up to 4 stars. I think if you have liked Miranda’s previous books, you will enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Addison Murphy is the funny friend, the girl you grab a beer with—the girl voted most likely to start her own sweatshirt line. And now that one of her best guy friends is getting married, she’ll add “groomsman” to that list, too. She’ll get through this wedding if it’s the last thing she does. Just don’t ask her to dive for any bouquet.

When Tucker Crawford returns to his small hometown, he expects to see the same old people, feel comfort in the same old things. He certainly doesn’t expect to see the nice pair of bare legs sticking out from under the hood of a broken-down car. Certainly doesn’t expect to feel his heart beat faster when he realizes they belong to one of his best friends.

If he convinces Addie to give him a chance, they could be electric…or their break-up could split their tight-knit group in two.

Hiding the way he feels from the guys through bachelor parties, cake tastings, and rehearsals is one thing. But just as Tucker realizes that Addie truly could be the perfect woman for him—he was just too stupid to realize it—now she’s leaving to follow her own dreams. He’s going to need to do a lot of compromising if he’s going to convince her to take a shot at forever with him—on her terms this time.

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

Just One of the Groomsmen will be available May 28, 2019. 

I loved this book so much! It was such a fun, sweet Friends-to-More story and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I don’t really like to use words like “swoony” or “feels”, but Addie and Tucker made my cold, black heart feel all the feelings. I loved their friendship and I loved how it turned into more. The friendship lines aren’t really crossed until about halfway through the book and the slow burn was everything. I actually maybe enjoyed the first half of the book a teensy bit more because of it.

I also really loved their group of friends. It made me nostalgic for my high school days where I had a great group of guy friends and I was often the only girl hanging out and they definitely sometimes forgot I was, in fact, a girl. I really enjoyed when they were all together  and how they joked around with each other. I could have used a lot more of that, actually. I don’t feel like we got to know all of the guys as much as I liked to. I would love for this to be a series so that could be rectified.

The only thing I didn’t really like was that there were a few too many sex scenes once Addie and Tucker got together. I could’ve done with a few less of the graphic scenes, with more focus on the relationship instead.

Overall, I loved Just One of the Groomsmen. It was fun and romantic and everything I hope for when I pick up a Contemporary Romance. I definitely recommend this one to fans of the genre.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The legendary FBI criminal profiler, number-one New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the hit Netflix show Mindhunter delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process, and divulging the strategies used to crack some of America’s most challenging cases.

The FBI’s pioneer of criminal profiling, former special agent John Douglas, has studied and interviewed many of America’s most notorious killers—including  Charles Manson, ”Son of Sam Killer” David Berkowitz and ”BTK Strangler” Dennis Rader—trained FBI agents and investigators around and the world, and helped educate the country about these deadly predators and how they operate, and has become a legend in popular culture, fictionalized in The Silence of the Lambs and the hit television shows Criminal Minds and Mindhunter.

Twenty years after his famous memoir, the man who literally wrote the book on FBI criminal profiling opens his case files once again. In this riveting work of true crime, he spotlights four of the most diabolical criminals he’s confronted, interviewed and learned from. Going deep into each man’s life and crimes, he outlines the factors that led them to murder and how he used his interrogation skills to expose their means, motives, and true evil. Like the hit Netflix show, The Killer Across the Table is centered around Douglas’ unique interrogation and profiling process. With his longtime collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas recounts the chilling encounters with these four killers as he experienced them—revealing for the first time his profile methods in detail.

Going step by step through his interviews, Douglas explains how he connects each killer’s crimes to the specific conversation, and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one. In the process, he returns to other famous cases, killers and interviews that have shaped his career, describing how the knowledge he gained from those exchanges helped prepare him for these.

A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.

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

The Killer Across the Table will be available May 7, 2019. 

I don’t often read Non-Fiction, but profiling has always fascinated me. Mindhunters has also been on my Watch List, so when I realized John Douglas is the inspiration for that show, I knew I had to read The Killer Across the Table.

John Douglas is a pioneer in profiling for the FBI. He and his colleague, Bob Ressler, started interviewing violent criminals to learn more about their motivations, which can ultimately help law enforcement in identifying, catching, and prosecuting the guilty. The book focuses on four different killers, ranging from a one-time (though horrific) offender to a serial killer. Included in each chapter is detailed background information about the subject, anecdotes of his interviews with other criminals that relate in some way to the current subject, details of the interview, and analysis of what it all means.

I found the book really interesting. It does not shy away from any of the gruesome facts, so it may not be for all readers. The four main subjects were Joe McGowan, Joseph Kondro, Donald Harvey, and Todd Kohlhepp. I had never heard of any of these men before picking up this book, but I will not soon forget the atrocities they committed. While the many anecdotes on previous cases were very interesting and added to the main case being discussed, it did get a little confusing at times with all the names and details being thrown around. There were also a few times where Douglas comes across pretty arrogant, mockingly dismissing the opinions of other professionals that he disagreed with. However, he is obviously very knowledgeable and dedicated to what he does, so I could look past the more arrogant moments.

Overall, I enjoyed The Killer Across the Table. I think profiling work is so interesting and I liked learning a little more about the process. I definitely recommend this one to true crime fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Rachel, the beautiful bride with BIG plans for the perfect day! The venue is a castle and the dress is designer. It’s just a shame her husband is a rat.

Maddie and Sally have only one thing in common – they both love the same man!

Beth is a newly single mum with a mystery baby daddy. Surely the father isn’t someone the girls all know?

And then there’s Jane, the glue holding them all together, but being dumped doesn’t make her the happiest bridesmaid…especially with gorgeous flatmate Freddie complicating things.

Will the bride say, ‘I Do!’? Or will her bridesmaids save the day…and find love along the way?

The most hilarious, feel-good rom com of the year!

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

Bridesmaids will be available April 26, 2019. 

Bridesmaids was a fun, quick read that I really enjoyed. I’m going to go the list route on this one.

-Based on the synopsis I thought this was going to be more of an ensemble story with multiple POVs. However, it’s told from the first person POV of Jane, the bride-to-be’s best friend. I had to adjust my expectations a bit, but it worked for me. Jane was a little hard to like at first. She came across pretty self-absorbed and kind of snotty, but as the story went on I liked her a lot more.

-Rachel, the bride, is always described as being so nice and caring and selfless, but I didn’t always get that. I mean, she was nice, but she did lots of selfish things. Jane had recently gone through a pretty terrible break-up right before she was supposed to be married and did not handle it well and is pretty skittish about the whole wedding idea. But, Rachel 100% expects her to be there as a bridesmaid and to even plan her hen party (or bachelorette party to us, Americans), which is where she was dumped by her fiance. Rachel also asks two other women to be bridesmaids even though one of them is now married to the other one’s ex-boyfriend, who is definitely not over the break-up. It was kind of a train wreck sometimes, but I couldn’t look away.

-I think my favorite thing about the book was Freddie, Rachel’s flatmate. He was so funny and sweet and wonderful. I loved every scene he was in. I loved his friendship with Rachel and I loved how their relationship turned to more than friends. I shipped them so hard.

-There are are several secrets and scandals between the wedding party. I’ll admit one of my pet peeves in books is when one honest conversation could solve all the problems. But, it didn’t really bother me here. As I said earlier, sometimes when they all got together it was kind of like a train wreck, but it was an entertaining one I had to keep reading. I thought the identity of Beth’s baby’s father was kind of obvious, but it added to the soap-opera like drama and I was here for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bridesmaids. While I did have some issues with some of the characters’ behavior, the story was full of Lifetime level drama and was exactly the type of read I was in the mood for. I also absolutely loved Freddie and his relationship with Jane. This was my first book by Stoneley, but I plan on checking out more of her books when I’m in the mood for some good Chick Lit.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.

Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe’s love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram’s maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven–nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy’s heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they’ve become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.

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

Summer by the Tides will be available May 21, 2019.  

Summer by the Tides is one of my new favorite Denise Hunter novels. A perfect blend of family, faith, and romance, it was everything I hope for when picking up one of Hunter’s books.

Maddy loses her job and her boyfriend all at the same time so there is nothing holding her back from going to look in on her grandmother when she gets a call from her concerned neighbor. The concerned neighbor also called Maddy’s two estranged sisters, Nora and Emma. Nora and Emma had a falling out twenty years prior and are both still holding grudges. It makes things really uncomfortable when they all show up at their grandmother’s and then decide to stay there to help fix the place up. All the characters were pretty likable, though sometimes frustrating. The secrets that are discovered during their stay were not anything surprising – except there was an extra twist on one that I wasn’t expecting.

I really liked the concerned neighbor, Connor. He was such a sweet and stand-up guy. I loved his relationship with his sisters. I really shipped his growing relationship with Maddy, too. He was exactly the kind of guy that Maddy needed and he was extremely patient with her skittishness. Things did get just a little too cheesy at times when it came to the romance, but I’ll take sappy over graphic any day.

Overall, I really enjoyed Summer by the Tides. It was a cute, quick read that I flew right through. I liked the message of faith and trusting in God and felt it was incorporated really well into the characters’ lives and didn’t come off as preachy. I liked seeing Maddy and her sisters work through their issues and discover family secrets. I liked that reconciliation was shown as a process and small steps and not just a magical fix where everything is all of a sudden fine. I definitely recommend this one to Denise Hunter fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars