Review: A Path to Redeeming Love: A Forty Day Devotional by Francine Rivers and Karin Stock Buursma

51637517

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This one-of-a-kind devotional based on the timeless classic novel Redeeming Love provides forty days of inspiration–featuring essays from the author on her beloved novel.

A Path to Redeeming Love: A 40-Day Devotional welcomes readers to revisit Francine Rivers’s life-changing story of God’s all-consuming love in an inspiring new way: a personal, 6-week journey through Angel and Michael’s iconic love story.

Following the novel’s key themes–Rejected, Resigned, Rescued, Redeemed, Reconciled, Restored–each daily devotion includes a Redeeming Love story tie-in with an excerpt from the novel; selected quotes from Scripture embodying both the message of the devotion and its theme; and prompts for reflection and activities including Bible study, prayer, journaling, and outreach. Each theme begins with a personal essay from Francine in which she shares stories from her life and her thoughts on Angel, Michael, and God’s unconditional and unending love. A meaningful devotional with depth and heart, this book is a perfect companion to Redeeming Love for its many fans.

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

A Path to Redeeming Love: A 40 Day Devotional publishes October 13, 2020. 

Even though it’s been many years since I’ve read Redeeming Love, it’s a story that has stayed with me. I still find myself thinking about it from time to time and comparing other books to it. I was looking for a new daily devotional when I came across A Path to Redeeming Love and it felt like an obvious choice.

I usually prefer devotionals that involve a little more study – scriptures to look up, questions to answer, etc. While this devotional didn’t have as much as that, it was longer than a lot of other one verse/one page ones I’ve tried and I liked that. Each day starts with an excerpt from Redeeming Love, which is then analyzed in respect to the theme of the day’s lesson. It goes deeper than the book, though, and the lesson digs into several passages of scripture. The verses are all included in the text, but I also liked to look them up separately for more context. Each day ends with a small assignment – memorize a verse, meditate/pray on a subject, reach out to someone who has been an important part of your spiritual journey, etc.

I really enjoyed the devotional. I loved the passages of Redeeming Love and it has really made me want to re-read the book. While the story is obviously a romance, it’s also a parable of God’s love. Rivers mentions that she has received many responses from readers about how they wish they could find a man to love them like Michael loves Angel and she tells them that they can. The selfless, sacrificial way he loves her is the same way that God loves us. I found the daily installments easy to read and understand and often relatable. I definitely recommend this to someone who is looking for new devotional, especially if you were a fan of the book. I’m going to be buying a copy of the devotional for my mother, who is the one who introduced me to Redeeming Love.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

50892240

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the “raw, ingenious, and utterly fearless” (Wendy Walker, USA TODAY bestselling author) Temper comes a dynamic psychological thriller about two women who give bad men exactly what they deserve.

Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.

Featuring Layne Fargo’s trademark “propulsive writing style” (Kirkus Reviews) and “sinister, of the moment” (Chicago Review of Books) suspense, They Never Learn is a feminist serial killer story perfect for fans of Killing Eve and Chelsea Cain.

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

They Never Learn publishes October 13, 2020. 

I’ve been struggling lately to find books that keep my attention and when I picked up They Never Learn I didn’t have very high expectations. So it took me completely by surprise by how addictive and compelling this story turned out to be.

There have been a lot of #MeToo type of stories to come out over the last couple of years. While it’s obviously an important topic, I have to say I’ve been getting a little bored with it. None of these books have really brought anything new to the table and it feels like reading the same thing over and over again. The Never Learn definitely took a different spin on the subject. A serial killer who targets sexual predators? It was like a feminist Dexter and I was here for it.

The chapters alternate POVs between Scarlett, a college professor/serial killer, and Carly, a college Freshman. I thought the alternating POVs were done pretty well. The story was very character driven and I felt like I got to know them pretty well. There were several twists throughout the book and the first one actually ended up surprising me. I felt a little mad at myself for not figuring it out earlier – in hindsight you’ll definitely see the clues – but I like that it surprised me because it doesn’t happen that often these days. The rest of the twists are a little more subtle and not as shocking, but I thought they were pretty well done. I don’t feel like I can say too much about how the story plays out because it will be too spoilery.

Overall, I really enjoyed They Never Learn. I always enjoy a good serial killer story and I especially liked how it made a #MeToo storyline a little more fresh. While the characters weren’t always very likable, they were compelling and I was invested in seeing how things would turn out for them. This was my first book by Fargo, but I’m definitely going to go back and read her debut book and will look forward to whatever she does next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

48946446. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Ever since reading The Flatshare, I have been anxious to see what Beth O’Leary would write next. I will admit I was a little underwhelmed with the synopsis for The Switch, but it ended up being such a sweet, enjoyable story. I’m going the list route on this one.

What I Liked

-I loved the small town where Eileen lives and Leena comes to stay. It was so cute and the quirky townspeople were the perfect cast of supporting characters. I loved them. I also loved Leena’s friends in London and how they so thoroughly accepted Eileen into their lives. All of the characters were so likable (except, of course, for the couple that aren’t supposed to be).

-I really liked that the older characters were given so much development. I think a lot of the time elderly characters in books that feature a younger generation are kind of caricatures instead of people.

-The romances weren’t quite as central as I expected them to be, but that ended up being ok. They were still very cute. I absolutely loved every single thing about Jackson. He’s a little too perfect to be realistic, but I don’t care. I also loved who Eileen ended up with.

-I really enjoyed the general atmosphere of family and community. I feel like so much of what we encounter today is rooted in hate and division and it was refreshing to see people of different walks of life come together, instead.

-As someone who often feels stuck in life, it was kind of inspiring to see both Leena and Eileen take charge of their lives and make positive changes. I thought both their character arcs were well done and I could’ve gone on reading much more about them.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-One thing that really brought the story down for me was Eileen’s relationship with Tod. She meets  him online and he basically tells her he’s not interested in a relationship, but just wants to sleep with her – non-exclusively – while she’s in London and she’s like ok, sounds fun. This isn’t a new concept or anything in Romance novels, but it’s never a plotline I like. It made me respect her a little less and it honestly didn’t add that much to the story for me. You know almost the whole time that she will end up with someone else and it was a little frustrating how long it took her to realize it.

-Leena’s boyfriend, Ethan, is barely a part of the story for most of the book. She barely even mentions him. It made her dramatics towards the end of the book seem a little out of of left field, to be honest.

-I liked that we got both Leena and Eileen’s POVs, but I didn’t think they needed to change every other chapter. Even though I liked both, I was always disappointed at the end of each chapter when it switched again. I think it would have been just as effective to give several chapters in a row to the same POV sometimes.

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed The Switch. I loved the characters and the sense of community. I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately where I’ve had trouble finding books that keep my attention, but I found myself always looking forward to picking this story back up again. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever O’Leary writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

49127718 43601208

(I had to include the non-American cover because it’s perfect. You’ll understand when you read the book.)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

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

Anxious People publishes September 8, 2020. 

Even though the Beartown books made me a Fredrick Backman fan for life, this is only my third book from him. I was a little afraid that no other book could live up to my sky high expectations. And while the Beartown books are still my favorites, Anxious People did not disappoint.

Backman has such a way with words. I am continually blown away by his honest – and humorous and sometimes heart wrenching – description of the human condition. There is no other author that can make me want to laugh and cry in equal measure. This story is about depression, anxiety, and desperation. But it’s also about hope, love, and forgiveness. It’s about idiots. It’s about the thoughts we have in our lowest moments and the reassurance that we are not alone. There was one passage that described my teenage self so accurately, that I really wish there were more books like this back then.

“She isn’t traumatized, she isn’t weighed down by any obvious grief. She’s just sad, all the time. An evil little creature that wouldn’t have shown up on any X-rays was living in her chest, rushing through her blood and filling her head with whispers, saying she wasn’t good enough, that she was weak and ugly and would never be anything but broken…In the end you get exhausted from always tensing the skin around your ribs, never letting your shoulders sink, brushing along walls all your life with white knuckles, always afraid that someone will notice you, because no one’s supposed to do that.”
(Quote taken from ARC, may be different in final version.)

The story is very character driven, and there is quite the quirky cast to get to know. I loved how we learned things about each of them, bit by bit. Characters who might come across a little unlikable at first are given context and background that will make you grow to love them instead. There’s even a twist or two that will keep you on your toes. I will say there were a few times where it felt like things dragged just a little and I wanted to get on with the story, but the character development was still definitely worth it. The story is told in a non-linear way, which could have gotten confusing, but I think Backman handled it really well. I loved the excerpts of the witness interviews most of all.

Overall, I loved Anxious People. Backman’s writing was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. It was honest and relatable and filled with emotion. It was also laugh out loud funny at times. I definitely recommend this one and am looking forward to going back and reading more of Backman’s backlist.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

53287484

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

I feel like a lot of us in the book community have a connection to the Twilight series. For me, they’re the books that got me back into reading for fun. I loved the feeling of getting swept up in a story, shipping a couple (#TeamEdward), and having to immediately go out and buy the next book because I had to know what would happen next. I’ve been chasing that experience ever since. Just as I loved the books, I would read – and re-read – the leaked partial draft of Midnight Sun that Meyer posted on her website. I spent years hoping she would finish and publish it. As time went on, though, my hope for it waned, as did my love for the series. I went on to read a lot of other books, many with a greater quality of writing and plot, but the series will always have a special place in my heart. And I was unbelievably excited when Midnight Sun was announced. So, did it live up to years of hopes and expectations? Not really. But I did go into it expecting that it wouldn’t, so it ended up being a mostly enjoyable reading experience. I’m just going to share a few thoughts here.

-It’s a long book. Well over 600 pages. And the chapters are also pretty long. It took me several days more to read it than I had expected and it dragged at times.

-It also took awhile to reach a part of the story that I hadn’t read before. It kind of felt like nothing was added to – or improved upon – that first draft that was leaked all those years ago. I will say it’s been a long time since I read it, though, so there might have been more changes than I remembered. Once I got past where the leaked draft ended, I started to enjoy it more.

-What I appreciated the most was getting more details of Edward’s history, as well as the other Cullens. Things that are just mentioned briefly in the original books are given a little more details and context. I was glad there were still things to learn and it wasn’t just a straight rehash.

-I enjoyed Edward’s POV. Though it was a little repetitive at times, I liked getting to be in his head and seeing the thoughts behind his actions. I also really liked being able to hear all the thoughts of the characters around him. It allowed for more depth than you usually get in a first person narrative.

-Reading it made me want to watch the movies again, so I ended up binging the whole series. I had forgotten how truly awful those movies are. And how truly beautiful Robert Pattinson is…

-The odd cover is given context. I don’t really know my Greek mythology, but it has to do with Persephone tying herself to the underworld (which is how Edward thinks of Bella’s attachment to him).

Overall, I did enjoy reading Midnight Sun. It was a little too long and didn’t quite live up to my expectations from years ago, but I’m glad that it was finally published and I’m glad I read it. It made me nostalgic for that time when I first started the series and fell in love with reading again. If Meyer decides to write the rest of the series through Edward’s POV, I would read those, too.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

49189494

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The discovery of a girl abandoned by the side of the road threatens to unearth the long-buried secrets of a Texas town’s legendary cold case in this superb, atmospheric novel from the internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans.

It’s been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on the walls of the town’s Baptist church, the police station, and in the high school. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah in the desolation of the old family house, cleared of wrongdoing by the police but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and in a new documentary about the crime.

When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, making silent wishes, he believes she is a sign. The town’s youngest cop, Odette Tucker, believes she is a catalyst that will ignite a seething town still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. But Odette can’t look away. She shares a wound that won’t close with the mute, one-eyed mystery girl. And she is haunted by her own history with the missing Tru.

Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the shocking truth about a fateful night in the past–the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop, the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent mythology.

In this twisty psychological thriller, Julia Heaberlin paints unforgettable portraits of a woman and a girl who redefine perceptions of physical beauty and strength.

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

We Are All the Same in the Dark publishes on August 11, 2020. 

We Are All the Same in the Dark started off so strong for me. The writing was addictive, the atmosphere was tense, and the mystery was intriguing. Unfortunately, it lost steam for me about halfway through. It wasn’t a bad book, but it ended up disappointing me after giving me such high hopes in the beginning.

The story was told in five parts and through three different POVs. I really enjoyed the first two parts and POVs. As I mentioned, I was really interested by the mystery and I thought Heaberlin did a great job of keeping the tension high. I found both Wyatt and Odette really compelling characters and was intrigued by their shared past and lasting connection. And then Part Three happened. It’s hard to talk about without revealing spoilers, but I found the transition to be really jarring. I didn’t really like that the third narrator got about the last half of the book. I thought the pace slowed down and the story started to drag. I also thought the identity of the murderer became pretty obvious long before the reveal.

I wanted a tense mystery/thriller and I while the story did start out that way, I felt like it shifted almost more into Women’s Fiction for a great deal of the book. The heart of the story are three strong, but damaged women. They are all special snowflakes type of ladies, that are are beautiful and clever and brave, but have been damaged physically, psychologically, or both. A lot of time is spent on what happened to them in their youth and how they cope. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I didn’t care about that, but I thought it would have been better placed in a different genre. I felt like the message got in the way of the development of the mystery sometimes and made the pace drag.

Overall, We Are All the Same in the Dark ended up being just ok for me. It started off really strong, but seemed to lose focus of the mystery and started to drag about halfway through. I think if you don’t mind a heavy handed lesson being handed out with your thrillers, you will enjoy this one a little more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

50373287. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of The Young Wives Club, a “heartwarming story about friendship, heartache, and self-discovery” (Karen White, New York Times bestselling author), comes a charming novel reminiscent of the works of Mary Alice Monroe and Kristy Woodson Harvey, about three sisters who win a huge lottery prize and learn what it truly means to be lucky.

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money.

For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.

Heartfelt, engaging, and featuring characters you’ll root for from the first moment you meet them, Louisiana Lucky is a satisfying page-turner from a rising star in women’s fiction.

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

Louisiana Lucky publishes August 4, 2020. 

Who hasn’t fantasized about winning the lottery? Would you quit your job? Buy a new house? Give yourself a makeover? Plan yourself the most over the top wedding the town has ever seen? For sisters Hanna, Callie, and Lexi, these fantasies becomes reality when they win a $204 million jackpot. The story follows the three sisters as they deal with the joys and the pitfalls of receiving a windfall of cash. Each chapter switches between POVs and I really enjoyed all of them. Though I often found myself frustrated with them, I thought all of the main characters were likable and I was rooting for them to make smart choices.

Despite meeting with a financial planner who warns them not to spend too much too fast, only one of the sisters takes the advice. Callie keeps her job as a journalist for the local paper, where she’s worked with her best friend/long time crush since she graduated college. It’s only after the handsome, charming local tv news anchor takes an interest in her that she uses her new found wealth to give herself a makeover so she can be the type of woman she thinks will keep his attention. He also encourages her to get out of print media and join him on tv. He seems a little too good to be true and while he didn’t really do anything that hinted he was after her money, it did seem a little suspicious that it was at the press conference where she was announced as a millionaire that he approached her.

Hanna and Callie both went a little more crazy with the money than Callie did. Lexi was planning a small and intimate wedding with her fiance, but now she can afford the best of everything. When Seth’s mother, who Lexi has never felt accepted by, joins the wedding planning, things get even more over the top and Seth isn’t thrilled about it. Hanna is tired of all the repairs her husband’s old family home needs and she has her eye on a million dollar listing, instead. And a new car and wardrobe that will help her fit in with the snooty mothers at her children’s new private school.

All three sisters continue to throw money at their problems, but they come to realize that money may not solve everything quite as easily as they expected. Even though the direction of the plot seemed a little obvious, I felt invested in all of the sisters and wanted to see how they handled things. The story is very character-driven and because of that, the pace could feel a little slow at times. However, I was completely addicted to the book and never wanted to put it down. There was one aspect I have a bit of a complaint about, though. While there was a lot of character development for the sisters, I would’ve liked to see more development for the other people in their lives. There are quick mentions of Hanna’s son being bullied, her husband, Tom, having abandonment issues, Lexi’s fiance’s dysfunctional relationship with his parents, Callie’s close friendship with Garrett, and the growing relationship between Callie and her new boyfriend, Wynn. I wanted to know more about all of these things and get to know all the characters surrounding the sisters a little better.

Overall, I really enjoyed Louisiana Lucky. Lately I find myself struggling with books that fall under the Women’s Fiction umbrella, but I did not have that problem at all while reading this book. I was drawn in by that beautiful cover, but it was the character-driven, addictive writing that kept me hooked. I was a fan of Pennell’s debut book, The Young Wives Club, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting her follow up. With Louisiana Lucky, she’s proven she definitely deserves a spot on my author auto-read list.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

51174531

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From Michele Campbell, the bestselling author of It’s Always the Husband comes a new blockbuster thriller in The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

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

The Wife Who Knew Too Much publishes July 28, 2020.

I really enjoyed Michele Campbell’s last book, A Stranger on the Beach, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Wife Who Knew Too Much. While the story didn’t go quite the way I had expected, it still had that addictive writing that kept me completely hooked.

In the beginning, we get both Nina and Tabitha’s POV. I liked the flashbacks to how both of their relationships started with Connor and then to the events leading up to Nina’s death. I kind of wished Nina didn’t die so soon because I wanted to spend more time with her. I liked that both women seemed sympathetic, but also a little untrustworthy. It kept me on my toes and I liked that.

The story didn’t quite unfold in the way I thought it would. The synopsis mentions Tabitha finding Nina’s diary warning of her untimely death, but that doesn’t actually happen to about the 80% mark. The book was a lot less gothic, claustrophobic drama than I expected. There was perhaps a little too much time spent of Tabitha just doing whatever Connor told her and not being nearly as suspicious as she should be. I also came up with my theory pretty early on in the story, which ended up being correct. Thankfully, the writing was still really addictive and compelling and I couldn’t stop reading it.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wife Who Knew Too Much. I really enjoyed the writing and the multiple POVs and timelines. The ending went in a slightly different direction than I was expecting, which disappointed me, but I don’t think most readers will be upset by it. If you’ve enjoyed Campbell’s other books, I definitely recommend this one. I look forward to whatever she writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Vacation by T.M. Logan

51180085. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In The Vacation, a captivating thriller from T. M. Logan, the bestselling author of Lies and 29 Seconds, four lifelong friends on a luxurious vacation come face-to-face with an explosive secret.

It was supposed to be the perfect vacation, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children, spending a week in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence.

But there is trouble in paradise.

Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair—and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one?

As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realizes—too late—that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined. And someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their lies hidden.

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

The Vacation will be published July 21, 2020. 

Addictive writing, a steady pace, and a teasingly revealed mystery made The Vacation an unputdownable read for me.

The characters were all mostly awful people, but I felt invested in finding out what happened with them. Kate has been noticing that her husband has been acting off recently and when she stumbles upon messages on his phone, she suspects he’s having an affair with one of her three best friends, all of whom they are on vacation with. She spends a lot of time trying to figure out which of her friends is lying to her and there are suspicious things about each of them. It doesn’t help that her husband, Sean, remains cagey when she eventually tries to confront him. Thrown into the mix are the group’s children and a subplot you might be tempted not to pay too much attention to, but should. All of the children were even more awful than their parents, with the exception of sweet, innocent Daniel, Kate and Sean’s son.

The story is mostly told through Kate’s POV, but interspersed are chapters from other characters’ point of views and I thought it was done very well. It helped keep the pace steady and move the mystery along. I will say, though, that I thought things dragged on a little too long. While I didn’t guess everything that Kate eventually discovers, I was certain that things weren’t all they appeared to be. The clues that something more was going on felt pretty obvious, which made me a little frustrated with how long it took to get to a resolution. That said, I thought everything did come together nicely and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I enjoyed The Vacation. I thought the writing was addictive and I loved the use of multiple POVs. While I wish there was a little more of a twist, I was surprised by how things wrapped up and I liked that. I definitely recommend this one and look forward to Logan’s next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

51169341

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

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

The Night Swim publishes August 4, 2020.

I found The Night Swim to be a very average read. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. The writing was fine, but the pace was so slow. The plot was timely, but only mildly intriguing. The good and bad parts kind of canceled each other out and leaves you with a moderately entertaining, if ultimately forgettable read.

The story follows famous podcast host Rachel, as she reports on a rape trial. We’re supposed to believe she’s an incredible journalist and investigator, so I was surprised by how thoroughly distracted she let herself get by messages from the mysterious Hannah, who wants Rachel to investigate a murder that happened decades prior. Rachel blows off parts of the trial on multiple occasions to investigate Hannah’s claims. The cases have similarities and and ultimately some of the same players. The clues are given out methodically, but slowly and I found myself pretty bored for most of the book.

I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. We get very little personal information about Rachel and her role seems more as a narrator than anything else. This could have been by design, as she’s supposed to be an impartial host, laying out the facts for her audience. However, it kept me from ever really caring that much about her. She also was far from being impartial. I also found Hannah a frustrating character. She tells her story in fits and starts and I didn’t really understand why it had to be drawn out so long.

The story spends a lot of time on commentary about how rape accusations are handled and trials are conducted. I think a lot of good points are made, but it doesn’t say anything new. Especially with the number of books that center around #MeToo topics these days, this has nothing that makes it stand out among the others.

Overall, The Night Swim was just ok for me. The writing was fine, but I thought it was too slow paced and was much longer than it needed it to be. The mysteries were interesting enough, but the lack of character development really kept me from getting invested. It was a thoroughly average book that I think many people will spend a few days enjoying, before completely forgetting about it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars