Review: Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

34105949

I received a copy of this title via Penguin’s First to Read and NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

I’ve read a lot of Suspense this year and Don’t Let Go has definitely made it’s way onto my Favorites list. It was fast paced and highly entertaining.

I loved Nap. He was sarcastic, morally gray, and totally unapologetic. The story is mostly told through his 1st Person POV and I loved being in his head. He narrated events to his dead twin brother, which is not my favorite type of narrative style, but it worked ok. I thought the story was pretty fast paced, with something happening every chapter. We get the necessary background information and character development, but it wasn’t an over the top amount of detail that slows things down like in so many other books. Coben seamlessly worked it all in to the current timeline and the mystery Nap was trying to solve.

I liked the supporting characters a lot, too. I loved Nap’s relationship with his best friend, Ellie, and how it was completely platonic. I also really liked Augie, Nap’s mentor. The two grew close after the death of Nap’s brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana, who was also Augie’s daughter. The plot revolves around the unanswered questions surrounding Leo and Diana’s deaths fifteen years ago, the recent deaths of a couple of Nap’s old classmates, and the conspiracy theories of the old missile base in their small town. I thought there were some things that seemed a little too unrealistic at times, but they made a little more sense by the end and it was all pretty entertaining, so I can let it go.

Overall,  I really enjoyed Don’t Let Go. I loved Nap and his humor. I loved how fast paced the story was and that each scene seemed important. I have only read a couple of books by Coben, but this one convinces me that I definitely need to read more from him. I highly recommend this one to Suspense fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Advertisements

Review: Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer

28421168

Synopsis from Good Reads:

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

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

I am a big fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and despite not being a big superhero fan have been really looking forward to Renegades. I was very excited to win an advanced copy through a giveaway from the publisher.

Renegades tells the story of a world where prodigies exist. Prodigies are people with special abilities. They had been persecuted for a long time until a very powerful prodigy, Ace Anarchy, staged a rebellion against the powers that be. During this Age of Anarchy when crime was running rampant, a small group of prodigies formed to try and restore justice, calling themselves the Renegades. Now the Renegades rule the land. Nova, one of the few anarchists left and one with a very personal grudge, wants to take the Renegades down and plans to “become” a Renegade to take them down from the inside.

Renegades appears to be very heavily inspired by X-Men. Most of the plot and characters reminded me of the movies (I’ve never read the comics). The story was pretty predictable, but it was still fun and I enjoyed it. I did think the book was far too long for what little happened, though. There was a lot of world building and an over-the-top amount of description (for me, anyways). This book really just seemed like it was more concerned with setting up the series then anything else. I remember not loving Cinder (the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series), but thought all the rest of the series was fantastic, so I have high hopes for the following books.

I liked Nova and the morally gray ground she walked. She is smart and funny. She’s on a mission for vengeance, but she also thinks that society would be better off without the renegades. She feels like people rely too heavily on them instead of providing for themselves and non-prodigies should be able to form their own government again. Adrian is part of a superhero dynasty and leader of the team that Nova joins when she becomes a Renegade. He believes in the renegade’s mission, but also thinks there is some room for improvement. Adrian is a very lovable character and I enjoyed all of his POV chapters. The romance between Nova and Adrian is very slow burn and is still in very early stages by the end of the book. There wasn’t a whole lot of development on the other characters and I hope they all become a little easier to keep straight in the coming books.

Overall, I enjoyed Renegades. It was a fun story with likable characters. I did feel like it was a little too long, though, and the pace was pretty slow for most of it. Not a whole lot really happened and because of this I can’t quite give this 4 stars. I do have very high hopes for the rest of the series, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

34064624

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

Lies She Told will be available September 12, 2017. 

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing down in both her professional and her personal life, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, Beth sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the Hudson and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

 

I loved this book! It was such a well done psychological suspense and I did not want to put it down.

Lies She Told is about Liza, a once best selling author who has struggled with her last few books. Her editor doesn’t seem to be very impressed with her newest idea, but she gets him to agree to give her 30 days to submit a first draft. As she writes, she is distracted by her relationship with her increasingly distant husband, David, who’s best friend and business partner, Nick, has gone missing. She is also on an experimental fertility hormone that has some difficult side effects. She starts to write her new book about Beth, a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her and goes to drastic measure to keep him.

“To be a writer is to be a life thief. Every day, I rob myself blind.”

The story is told in alternating chapters of Liza’s life and her book. I really loved this! There are definitely parallels between Liza’s book and her life. However, I also thought that Beth’s story, while inspired by Liza, still felt like it’s own plot. It was almost like reading two different books that gave clues to each other. Including a story within a story is not a new narrative device, but I thought it was done really excellently here.

While I don’t think the conclusion to the mystery of what happened to Nick is really that surprising, there were still enough little twists to keep me guessing. We don’t know if Liza’s hormones are making her forgetful or if there are other things going on. On the other hand, we see exactly how crazy and manipulative Beth can be. While neither of these two characters were particularly likable, I thought both of them to be sympathetic and compelling.

Overall, I really enjoyed Lies She Told. I loved the writing style and the alternating chapters made me never want to stop reading. I definitely recommend this one to fans of psychological suspense. This is my first book by Cate Holahan and I am now anxious to try out what else she’s done.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

35628567

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

Sociable will be available March 27, 2018.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The Assistants meets The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in this exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of Internet media, a brilliantly irreverent novel about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper’s interns wearing shapeless smocks. So when Elinor is offered a job at Journalism.ly, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Journalism.ly Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor’s success is not without cost. Elinor’s boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on “mentoring” her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Broke, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing a smock? With wry humor and sharp intelligence, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman’s search for happiness–and an inside look at life in the wild world of Internet media.

I am usually a sucker for books that deal with journalists or authors. It’s just one of those topics that will make me automatically want to read something. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save this book for me.

The synopsis describes the tone as “irreverent”, but it fell short on that front for me. There were a few humorous moments, but I felt like things should have been a little more exaggerated. I get what the author was trying to do in poking fun at Millennial culture and could appreciate the effort, but it didn’t take it nearly far enough to make any sort of impact. Elinor just ended up coming across as insufferable and not in a funny way. All of the other characters were just as unlikable, especially her boyfriend Mike. No one really grew and there wasn’t really anyone I wanted to root for. JW, the one “real” journalist at Journalism.ly, was the only character I really enjoyed reading about, but we saw less and less of him as the story went on.

There was one thing in the writing style that really bothered me. The story starts out with kind of a 1st Person Plural POV. “It was midway through the party…when we saw Elinor.” and We were in a small backyard…” (quotes taken from ARC). Then it completely abandons that style and seemingly goes to straight 3rd Person POV, with one exception. “Perhaps, the reader might be questioning…Reader, I don’t even know what to tell you.” (quotes taken from ARC). That is the only short part the reader is addressed and then the narrator uses “I” instead of “We” like in the beginning. If there is a purpose for those style choices, I did not understand it.

Overall, Sociable was just not for me. I think it had a relevant and interesting concept, but it wasn’t executed well. I’m giving it two stars instead of one because it was a quick, easy read and there were a few humorous moments I enjoyed.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

 

Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

33602123

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all…

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

Dead Woman Walking will be available September 5, 2017.

I discovered Sharon Bolton earlier this year with the fabulous Lacey Flint series and have been eagerly devouring every book of hers I could get my hands on since then. Dead Woman Walking had become one of my most anticipated books of the year and I ended up really enjoying it.

The official synopsis is kept pretty vague and I am hesitant to really go further into it because I do think that it enhances the experience to go into it without a lot of information. I will say that the crime that is witnessed from the hot air balloon is just part of a much bigger mystery that is explored. The perspective shifts between the lone survivor, the murderer, the detective working the case, and flashback chapters. I’m a big fan of multiple timelines when done well and Bolton does it excellently here. Bolton also does an amazing job creating suspense, especially in the early chapters in the hot air balloon.

There are many little twists and surprises throughout the book. I’m the type of person that NEEDS to figure things out before they’re revealed and because of this I am not often surprised by the twists. There is one kind of major twist that I suspected very early and it took most of the book for it to be confirmed. I feel like anybody really paying attention would be able to figure it out because there are lots of clues, so I thought it took a little too long to reveal it. However, if you’re not the type of person that has to analyze every little thing then it might be a great surprise for you. There are a couple of other twists that I did figure out before they were revealed, but Bolton still managed to sneak in one surprise that literally made me go “What!?”.

Overall, even though I figured out most of the twists, I thought Dead Woman Walking was a really well-constructed mystery and I enjoyed pretty much every moment of it. I am impressed by Bolton’s writing in every book I read by her and this year she has become one of my favorite authors. I definitely recommend this one to mystery/suspense fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Fallen Heir (The Royals #4) by Erin Watt

33807229

Synopsis from Good Reads:

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.

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

Fallen Heir will be available August 28, 2017. 

The Royals series is such a guilty pleasure for me. They are not the type of books I usually read, but I picked up Paper Princess because of all the hype and found it totally addicting. I felt like that addictive quality was lost a little bit in the following books, but it was back in full force for me with Fallen Heir.

Fallen Heir shifts the focus from Ella and Reed to Easton. I really enjoyed getting his 1st person POV. I was expecting the story to be told in dual POV between Easton and the love interest, newcomer Hartley, but I’m actually really glad that it wasn’t. I can’t really think of many Romance books that are told solely from the male’s POV and so that set it apart a little bit. And while there was a lot of brooding, I did like the insight into his behavior and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had enjoyed Reed’s POV.

As expected, there was all sorts of behavior I don’t approve of when reading about young adults (or regular adults for that matter), but I felt like it was toned down a lot from the previous books. I really appreciated that the story didn’t rely so heavily on shocking or graphic content. This book focused more on Easton’s destructive behavior and that there were actual consequences to it for both him and the people around him. I am really hoping that Easton gets into a rehab program before this series is over.

I enjoyed the slow burn relationship between Easton and Hartley. While at times Easton did come across a little too stalkery, being in his head we know there was no ill intent, so it didn’t really bother me that much. I liked that we got to see Ella and Val and I liked Easton’s friends Pash and Bran a lot, too. There was some more high school mean girl drama that kind of annoyed me, but I didn’t find it as over-the-top as it was in previous books either.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fallen Heir. I loved getting Easton’s POV. Sometimes he’s a hard character to like, but I was 100% rooting for him the entire time. I felt like this book recaptured the addictive writing that the first book in the series had and I can’t wait to read more – especially with those major cliffhangers this one ends with.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

11979900

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Chasing fame.

Chasing love.

Chasing a future.

Emme has long lived in her best friend Sophie’s shadow. She writes songs, and Sophie sings them. It’s always been like this, and feels like it always will be.

Sophie will stop at nothing to be a star. Even if it means using her best friend and picking up a trophy boyfriend, Carter.

Carter is a victim of a particular Hollywood curse: He’s a former child star. Now all he wants is a normal life. But being normal is about as hard for him as being famous.

Ethan has his own issues – a darkness in his head that he just can’t shake. He’s managed to sabotage every relationship he’s ever been in. Emme’s the only girl he’s ever really respected… but he’s not sure what to do about that.

Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan are all students at a performing arts school, where talent is the norm and fame is the goal. But sometimes, being in the spotlight isn’t as important as the people you’re sharing it with – as the four of them are going to find out in Elizabeth Eulberg’s excellent new novel, which is about the auditions life puts us through every day, both big and small.

I very recently discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have been working my way through her books. While I’ve enjoyed all of the ones I have read so far (especially Better off Friends), Take a Bow has become not just my favorite Eulberg book, but one of my favorite books of the year.

I loved the characters. The story is told from the 1st person POV of four students at a prestigious arts school: Emme, Ethan, Sophie, and Carter. I really enjoyed each of their perspectives. I loved Emme and how kind she was. I loved her relationship with her band members, Ben, Jack, and Ethan. Ethan came the closest to the “tortured artist” persona I was expecting for the setting, but it was never over the top. While he messed up plenty, he did really try and I loved him. Carter was the former child star who just wanted to have a normal life. He was so nice and I loved the friendship he developed with Emme. His part of the story is really focused on finding himself and while I appreciated it and did like him, he came across a little pretentious at times. I pretty much straight up hated Sophie at first, but as the book went on I started to kind of love to hate her. She could not be more different than sweet Emme and I couldn’t wait to see this mean girls get what was coming to her.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been binging on Eulberg books lately and I think the thing that keeps making me come back is the character development. All of her characters are really well developed and I become deeply invested in them. I almost start to feel like they’re real people and I wish I was part of their friendships. This year I have been really into mysteries/suspense and have not had a lot of patience for anything else. These books have made me really start to appreciate a good character-driven story again.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was how Carter’s chapters were formatted. Every time there was dialogue it had the character name and then a colon and then what was said. It took me a little while to figure out that’s it’s supposed to mimic a script. It didn’t work for me, though, because the rest of the text wasn’t like that. If the whole POV could have been written out like a script I think it could’ve been a really interesting narrative choice, but as it was it was just kind of distracting.

Overall, I really loved Take a Bow. I read it in a day. I loved the characters and the friendship and even the catty egomaniac. I know this review does not do justice to how much I enjoyed this book. I can’t believe how long it has taken me to discover Elizabeth Eulberg. If you are a fan of YA Contemporaries, you definitely need to check her out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars