Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

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

You Are Not Alone publishes March 3, 2020. 

Since loving this author duo’s debut, The Wife Between Us, their books have become auto-reads for me. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think they’re a bit of a one book wonder for me.

I was bored for about the first 90% of You Are Not Alone. There was some mild intrigue with Cassandra and Jane, the Moore sisters, and figuring out what exactly they’re up to, but it didn’t really take long to figure things out. I kept hoping there was a lot more to them and their group of friends, but there wasn’t. While I did like reading the multiple perspectives, getting the others just made Shay’s perspective more frustrating. I just wanted to yell at her to stop being so stupid all the time, which isn’t necessarily fair since I was privy to more information than she was. Still, though, for how intelligent she was supposed to be, I felt like it took her way too long to become suspicious.

I found the writing between the two authors to be seamless, as always. They have very compatible writing styles and I do find that impressive. I was just underwhelmed with the story. I thought much of it was very obvious and thought things drug out for too long. There was one surprise towards the end that I hadn’t guessed, but it wasn’t exactly a game changing twist like I have come to expect.

Overall, You Are Not Alone, just wasn’t for me. While there was initially some intrigue, I felt like things become obvious way too early in the story and I kept waiting for things to get really crazy, but they never did. I found myself just trying to get through the story, rather than enjoying it. While I still think these authors are talented, this story missed the mark for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Packed with the electrifying pacing and pulse-pounding suspense of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner, a thrilling debut about a mother desperate to find the connections between her missing husband and a deadly stalker who knows too much about her own dark family history.

Driving home one rainy night, Cassie Larkin sees a man and woman fighting on the side of the road. After calling 911, the veterinarian makes a split-second decision that will throw her sedate suburban life into chaos. Against all reason and advice, she gets out of her minivan and chases after the violent man, trying to help his victim. When Cassie physically tries to stop him, he suddenly turns on her and spits out an ominous threat: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.”

A veterinarian trained to heal, Cassie can’t let the woman die. But while she’s examining the unconscious victim, the attacker steals her car. Now he has her name. Her address. And he knows about her children. Though they warn her to be careful, the police assure her that the perpetrator—a criminal named Carver Sweet—won’t get near her. Cassie isn’t so sure.

The next day—Halloween—her husband disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter. Are these disturbing events a coincidence or the beginning of a horrifying nightmare? Her husband has been growing distant—is it possible he’s become involved with another woman? Is Cassie’s confrontation with the road-side attacker connected to her husband’s disappearance? With all these questions swirling in her mind Cassie can trust no one, maybe not even herself. The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t sit back while the people she loves are in danger.

As she desperately searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is more than willing to fight—to go the most terrifying extremes—to save her family and her marriage.

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

No Bad Deed will be available February 18, 2020. 

This is a hard one to review without giving too much away, so I’m going to keep it short. I did like that it was pretty fast paced and even when the plot seemed to drag a bit, the pace kept me reading. Small reveals came quickly and frequently and that also helped move the story along. That’s kind of the end of the good things I can say about No Bad Deed, though. Cassie was a confusing character. Nothing she did really made that much sense to me. One of my biggest pet peeves in this type of book is when the main character decides to investigate themselves and everything they do just makes them look guilty. There was a lot of that in this story and I found it frustrating. I also think the actual development of the mystery was kind of ridiculous. By the time we get to the reveal of who is behind everything and why, the only reaction I had was a hard eye roll. It was a promising premise, but I found the ending really underwhelming.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.

Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

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

Follow Me will available February 25, 2020. 

If there is one thing that freaks me out more than anything else, it is the thought of someone watching me. I’ve always been that person that closes the blinds as soon as it gets dark (if I open them at all). I refuse to buy any of those Alexa type of devices, even though I know my phone listens to me all the time anyways. It was only in the last couple years that I even turned the location services on on my phone and that’s only because I need to use the GPS so often. As a blogger, there’s definitely a balancing act between wanting to share some personal details, while not sharing too much.

That’s definitely not a balancing act that Audrey Miller cares about, though. In her desire to be an “authentic” Instagram influencer, she has no problem sharing the intimate details of her life to her million followers – in a curated, aesthetically pleasing way, of course. When she gets a new job and moves to DC, she comes within striking distance to one of her biggest fans. He does things like follow her around town, peep in her windows, and download scary, spyware on her computer. Though Audrey does become paranoid and frightened, the thought to chill out on Instagram never really seems to cross her mind.

I found the writing pretty addictive. It’s told through three POVs – Audrey, her friend Cat, and the mysterious “Him”. I thought the multiple POVs were used well and it helped move the story along, from an otherwise kind of slow pace. Audrey is completely self-absorbed and not the most likable person, but I found her kind of compelling to read about. Cat was the straight man to Audrey’s craziness and for awhile I found her kind of relatable. She did frustrate me, though, with how obsessed she was with Audrey’s friendship. She was a successful lawyer with a promising career, but she let herself get caught up in Aundrey’s whims and drama. She has a shady past alluded to a lot that she’s desperate to keep hidden from everyone, but when it was finally revealed, it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal to me. It’s something she didn’t really get in trouble for before, so it would have been easy for her to spin as an adult. The Him POV showed how truly crazy the stalker was and I enjoyed his chapters. I think that Barber did a pretty good job of giving us several characters to suspect. While I did figure out his identity awhile before it was revealed, I debated between him and another character for several chapters and I liked that it wasn’t completely obvious from the start.

Overall, I enjoyed Follow Me. Though I expected it to be a little creepier and suspenseful than it was, the subject matter alone was enough to creep me out. I wish the pacing had been a little faster, but the writing was addictive enough that it kept my attention the whole time. I definitely am interested in checking out more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Series Review: Fallen Crest High by Tijan

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It’s been a long time since I discovered a series that’s completely published and have been able to binge read the whole thing at once. The Fallen Crest High series has been on my radar for awhile because Deanna loves it, but it never really looked like my thing. After a disappointing reading year in 2019, I found myself looking for books that I don’t normally read and for some reason got into SUPER ANGSTY type of books. Because of that, I decided to finally give this series a try and got hooked.

The series follows Samantha and her drama filled life with the Kade brothers, Mason and Logan. Sam’s mother is leaving her father and takes Samantha with her to her new boyfriend’s house. She meets her future step-brothers, who are wildly popular rich football players, and after some initial bad blood, the three become very close. Mason and Sam also start dating.

There are some super crazy, ridiculous, eye-rolling, cringe-worthy, unbelievable drama that goes on in this series. It features teenagers that act like adults and adults that are crazy and negligent and abusive (and a few eventually that are amazing). I didn’t love how it painted teenage girls as desperate for popularity above anything else, even self-respect. There is a lot of cheating and sleeping around. And a ridiculous amount of graphic sex scenes between Sam and Mason. There’s also a lot of violence and destruction and social wars.

All that said, this series was highly entertaining. The writing was pretty addictive and I had a hard time putting most of these books down. There was some cute romance and fun banter. The drama was so off the wall, that I just had to know what crazy thing would happen next. It did start to get a little old, though. They kind of just kept doing the same thing, just with different enemies. I did like, though, that by the end they realized they needed to make some changes in their lives and finally started to grow up. While I know this series wouldn’t be for everyone, if you’re in the mood for some angst, this is definitely a series to try.

Individual Ratings (links go to Goodreads reviews)

Mason (#0.5) – 3 Stars

Fallen Crest High (#1) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Family (#2) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Crest Public (#3) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Fourth Down (#4) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Crest University (#5) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Christmas (#5.25) – 3 Stars

Logan Cade (#5.5) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Home (#6) – 3 Stars

Fallen Crest Forever (#7) – 3.5 Stars

Review: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A forbidden attraction grows even more complicated when the guy Lane Jamison has crushed on for years suddenly becomes her step-brother in this sexy and gorgeously written debut novel about the lines between love, desire, and obsession.

What happens when the boy you want most becomes the one person you can’t have?

Lane Jamison’s life is turned upside down the week before her senior year when her father introduces her to his new fiancée: mother of Grey McIntyre, Lane’s secret, longtime crush. Now with Grey living in Lane’s house, there’s only a thin wall separating their rooms, making it harder and harder to deny their growing mutual attraction—an attraction made all the more forbidden by Grey’s long-term girlfriend Sadie Hall, who also happens to be Lane’s friend.

Torn between her feelings for Grey and her friendship with Sadie—not to mention her desire to keep the peace at home—Lane befriends Sadie’s older brother, Connor, the black sheep of the strict, evangelical Hall family. Connor, a metal working artist who is all sharp edges, challenges Lane in ways no one else ever has. As the two become closer and start to open up about the traumas in their respective pasts, Lane begins to question her conviction that Connor is just a distraction.

Tensions come to a head after a tragic incident at a party, forcing Lane to untangle her feelings for both boys and face the truth of what—and who—she wants, in this gripping and stunningly romantic debut novel.

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

Together We Caught Fire will be available February 4, 2020

I was in the mood for a little angst and, oh boy, did I get that with Together We Caught Fire.

The story ended up being a little different than I thought it would be, based on the synopsis. There was still angst for days, but it wasn’t all romantic, love-triangle stuff. Lane is a complete mess and had issues in every single aspect of her life, mostly stemming from discovering her mother’s suicide when she was five years old. She has nightmares every night, severe trust issues, intimacy issues, family issues, depression, the list goes on. When Grey becomes her step-brother she starts hanging out with him, his girlfriend Sadie, and Sadie’s brother, Connor. Each one of them have their own myriad of issues and dysfunction and it could all be a little too much at times. However, it was one very addicting read.

It’s kind of hard to describe any of these characters as “likable”, but I was pretty invested in them. I wanted to see them work out their issues and heal and we do see a little bit of that by the time the book ends. Out of all of them, I did like Connor the best. It’s arguable that he had the most tragic backstory, but he was still the most well-adjusted, despite his issues. I liked how he was with Lane and I definitely shipped them. I had a hard time really understanding Lane’s “feelings” for Grey. He had moments where he could be sweet, but for most of the story he acted like a jerk and he had some definite anger issues. He and Lane had a few charged moments of longing glances, but I could never really get on board with the idea of them getting together. I liked them much more as step-siblings than as romantic interests.

While religion didn’t play a huge part in the story, the two ends of the spectrum were represented here. On one end was Sadie’s Fundamentalist Christian church, which her father pastors (who are, of course, the villains of the story as hateful bigots), and on the other end is Grey, the Wiccan. Lane is firmly in agnostic land, but partakes in her family’s pagan rituals. I have to say that even though these aren’t huge points in the story, it kind of brought my overall reading experience down. It always annoys me when the Christians are portrayed so poorly (even if they are fundamentalists and not your average Christian church) and I also was a little uncomfortable with the whole paganism thing. There’s even a point in the story where Lane’s father sits her down to talk to her about her relationship with Connor because he’s so afraid he’s going to “convert” her and then he’s overjoyed to find out Connor is an atheist. I mean, honestly, my main recurring thought while reading this whole book was, “These people need Jesus.” I did like, however, how it portrayed that no matter what your faith is, we all have our issues and brokenness we have to work through.

Overall, I did enjoy Together We Caught Fire. I don’t think it would be for everyone, but if you think you can handle the angst, buckle up and clear your schedule for this addictive debut. Even though the writing was a little more flowery and used a lot more imagery than I generally care for, it is super addictive and I could hardly put the book down. I’m definitely interested in seeing what Gibson does next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Other People by C.J. Tudor

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A gripping new thriller about a man’s quest for the daughter no one else believes is still alive, from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’ It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter.

Then, the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found, in a lake, with a body inside and Gabe is forced to confront events, not just from the night his daughter disappeared, but from far deeper in his past.

His search leads him to a group called The Other People.

If you have lost a loved one, The Other People want to help. Because they know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like.

There’s just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.

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

The Other People will be available January 28, 2020.

I think maybe it’s time for me to just give up and admit that this author’s books are not for me. C.J. Tudor is a talented writer and that makes me want to keep giving her a try, but like the books preceding it, The Other People, left me a little bored and underwhelmed.

The story had a lot going for it: murder, kidnapping, mysterious characters, secretive pasts, and a shadowy organization from the dark web. It really should have been a lot more intriguing than it ended up being. I figured out how the characters were related long before they were revealed. Gabe’s big secret past and the horrible thing he did ended up being not nearly as shocking as I was expecting. The supernatural elements didn’t really make a lot of sense to me and left me a little bit annoyed. And I thought The Other People organization should have been a little further explored.

Overall, The Other People, was ok, but left me pretty underwhelmed. I do like Tudor’s writing style and I liked the main character, Gabe, for the most part. However, the pace was pretty slow, the twists didn’t surprise me, I didn’t think the supernatural element added much to the story, and I found myself pretty bored. I have read several positive reviews for this book, though, so it might just be me. I don’t think I’ll be checking out any more books from this author in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

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

Marriage on Madison Avenue will be available January 28, 2020. 

I loved, loved, loved this! Few things make me happier than a cute Lauren Layne book and Marriage on Madison Avenue is one of her best yet.

Since their first scene together in the first book of the series, I have been wanting Audrey and Clarke’s story and it did not disappoint! This is both a Friends-to-More and Fake Relationship story, which is a combination of my favorite romantic tropes. I loved Audrey and Clarke’s friendship and I loved watching them realize their feelings for each other were more than that. Everything that happened was pretty predictable, but I enjoyed every moment of it anyways.

I thought Audrey and Clarke were both really likable characters and I was happy to see them get a happy ending. I also loved seeing the couples from the previous books, though I maintain that Naomi is much better in small doses. In addition to spending more time with the characters from this series, a few characters from Layne’s other series make appearances, which was quite fun.

Overall, I loved Marriage on Madison Avenue. I loved the characters, the romance, and the fake relationship aspects of the story. This was an enjoyable series and I think Layne definitely saved the best for last. I will miss these characters, but I look forward to whatever Layne writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars