Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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

The Perfect Stranger will be available April 11, 2017.

I think I went into The Perfect Stranger with the wrong expectations. I thought it was going to be really suspenseful and have a big twist. I spent my time trying to figure out what the big twist would be and I think in the process the smaller twists and turns of the story were not fully appreciated. This was a good mystery, but I still find myself slightly disappointed at the lack of thrill and suspense.

The book focused a lot on character development and thus the pace seemed a little slow to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-done character driven story and this definitely fits that description, but again, I wanted suspense and a quicker pace. While I wouldn’t categorize some passages as flashbacks, there is a lot of Leah explaining events from her past and things are revealed to the reader slowly. While I felt this was done effectively, the reveals were never really shocking enough to pull my focus off The Big Twist I was (mistakenly) waiting for. I think if you go into this just expecting what the synopsis tells you, you will find this a well done mystery.

I thought Leah was a pretty compelling character. Though the story is told from her 1st person POV, I never really felt like I could get a handle on her. Is she telling the truth? Is she just super paranoid? Is she secretly a sociopath? Is she in danger. Is she the danger? I still don’t know if I can say she was a likable character, but I don’t think that’s the point. The other characters were interesting, but I don’t feel like we got to know any of them well enough to really care about them one way or the other. I thought the relationship between Leah and Kyle was kind of messed up, but I can also see why it would work.

Overall, The Perfect Stranger was a good mystery, but I was left a little disappointed that it wasn’t as suspenseful or shocking as I was expecting. The mystery of Leah trying to figure out the truth about Emmy and the murders was well done, but there were some other side plots that I felt there were loose ends on. I found the ending a little anti-climactic, as well, and would have appreciated an epilogue. I do think fans of character-driven mysteries would really enjoy it, though, as long as that’s what they are expecting.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

Revewing the Unreviewed: February 2017

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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By Your Side by Kasie West. Read January 31-Feb 1. 3.5 Stars.

I enjoyed the second half of this book much more than the first half. I thought I would be disappointed when the story shifted from being trapped in the library into the real world, but it actually got a lot better.

I appreciated the main character having anxiety, but didn’t really feel like it was that great of a representation. There were a few times that I thought were kind of spot on, though. I did like how it showed how anxiety can make you appear to other people. However, once all of Autumn’s friends knew she had anxiety they were perfectly understanding and I don’t think that’s very realistic (at least not in my own experience).

I liked Dax and his sarcasm and how he looked out for Autumn. I thought he was really sweet. It did take about half the book until I felt the romance was cute and I wish it would’ve happened sooner, but it did eventually get super cute and I shipped it.

Overall, I liked this, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite book by this author. While I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I have to admit the first half was only ok. That’s why I’m giving it 3.5 stars instead of 4.

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A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint #4) by Sharon Bolton. Read February 2-5. 4 Stars.

This was probably my least favorite of the series, but still good. The plot felt a little convoluted at times, but it all came together by the end. I really like all of these characters and enjoy reading about them. I wish there were more Joesbury, but next up there’s a novella that I believe is from his POV, so that should make up for it.

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Here Be Dragons (Lacey Flint 4.5) by Sharon Bolton. Read February 5. 4 stars.

A pretty short, well-paced story told from entirely Joesbury’s POV. We get the whole story of what he was doing during the events of “A Dark and Twisted Tide”, plus a little more action. The ending included some major Joesbury-Lacey Feels and I can not believe that the author hasn’t even announced yet when the next book in this series will be. I need more!

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The Law of Moses (The Law of Moses #1) by Amy Harmon. Read February 1-6. 4 Stars.

Beautiful. Clever. A little on the weird side. This is my second Amy Harmon book and she is quickly on her way to becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved Moses and his POVs were the best parts of the book for me. I liked Georgia, but not quite as much as Moses. I also really liked Tag and am looking forward to reading his book. Definitely recommend this one.

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The Song of David (The Law of Moses #2) by Amy Harmon. Read February 7-9. 3 Stars.

I loved that this story was told from both Tag’s and Moses’ POVs. I liked the style of getting Tag’s POV through tapes he recorded and Moses’ POV in the present. I loved Moses just as much, but didn’t quite love Tag as much as I did in the previous book. His behavior just made me really angry sometimes. I liked both Millie and Henry and thought their disabilities were portrayed well. The reason this book isn’t getting 4 stars from me, though, is that I don’t like open-ended books and I didn’t feel satisfied with the conclusion of this one. Though Harmon did an admirable job of trying to convey that the black and white answer wasn’t needed, it just wasn’t enough for me. Overall, though, it was a good book that I would still recommend you read if you’ve read The Law of Moses.

A big thank you to Deanna  for loaning me a copy of the book!!

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Defying Gravity (Finding Perfect #2) by Kendra C. Highley. Read February 9-11. 2.5 Stars.

Zoey was a pretty unlikable character. I hated how wishy-washy and shallow she was – while we were supposed to think she was the opposite of shallow. Luke’s character make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I liked Parker, he was the saving grace of the book.

I read a lot of YA, even though I am around twice the age of the main characters. Usually I can still really appreciate them, but this is one of those books that makes me think I’m getting too old for YA.

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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. Read February 11-12. 4 Stars.

I liked this. This is my second Megan Miranda book and I’m still not sure I’m entirely sold on her writing style, but she is pretty great at character development. I don’t think the “backwards” storytelling was done as effectively as it could have been (I’ve seen it done better). There were only really two somewhat surprising reveals until it got close to the end of the book, so it seemed to drag a bit to me. However, I think that I will definitely re-read this sometime and read it in chronological order instead and see if things make sense. I did like the mystery, though, and I even liked the characters, even though they aren’t really the type of people you want to be rooting for. I found this one much more compelling than “The Perfect Stranger” and I’m sure I’ll give this author’s other future books a try.

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Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton. Read February 13-16. 3 Stars.

Good writing, good character development, steady pacing. Unfortunately, I just didn’t really care for the story. The characters were all unlikable, but I think they were supposed to be. I guessed who was behind the missing children long before the end and I didn’t really like the lack of impact the reveal had. There was also a lot of historical information about the Falklands that I felt took away focus a bit from the actual plot. Not a bad book at all (I don’t think Bolton can write a bad book), but pretty different from her Lacey Flint series that I love.

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Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay #3) by Jill Shalvis. Read February 17-19. 3.5 Stars.

A very cute romance. I think maybe I would have appreciated it just a bit more if I read the other books in the series first and knew the side characters better, but it still worked as a standalone. There wasn’t a whole lot of actual plot, but Archer and Elle’s relationship was fun enough to read that it didn’t really matter.

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On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins. Read February 17-21. 3 Stars.

It took me quite a long time to get into this book. If it wasn’t Kristan Higgins then I probably would have put it down to try another time. However, I am glad I kept reading. The character development was very good and I did like both Kate and Ainsley and their new romantic interests. Where Higgins writing really shines is with the romance and I wish this book would have focused a little more on that. I found myself skimming a lot of the rest of it. I know this is another foray into the “Women’s Fiction” world for this author instead of just a light and fluffy contemporary, but Higgins is my go-to when I want light and fluffy and I found myself just slightly disappointed that this wasn’t like the other books from her that I love.

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The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan. Read February 25-26. 3 Stars.

I liked the writing in this a lot and thought the multiple 1st Person POVs were done exceptionally well. Though I found the story kind of boring for the most part, it was written in such a way that I didn’t really want to put it down. I think one of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is when the main conflict in a story comes from poor communication and that’s what much of this book felt like to me. While I did feel sorry for things that happened to Zoe, I also was super annoyed by her behavior almost the whole time. Overall a bit of a disappointing story, but the writing really saved it for me.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Silent Scream by Anglea Marsons. I got this from the library and read just a couple chapters before it became a victim of too many books in too little time. I will definitely give it another try, though.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Marry Me at Christmas (Fool’s Gold #19) by Susan Mallery. Read November 28-December 1. 3.5 Stars.

This was pretty cute. I liked both Madeline and Johnny – especially Johnny. He had such a great sense of humor. Definitely a good addition to my holiday romance book binge.

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Mistletoe Between Friends / The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase. Read December 3-5. 3.5 Stars.

4 stars for Mistletoe Between Friends and 3 Stars for The Snowflake Inn so 3.5 Stars overall.

I liked Lily and Cameron a lot in Mistletoe Between Friends. It was a friendship-to-love / Fake Relationship story so of course I enjoyed it.

The Snowflake Inn had it’s cute and sweet moments, but I thought Grace and Riley’s relationship happened WAY too fast. I was more interested in the relationship between Corrine (Riley’s mom) and Ben.

Overall, though, both were cute holiday romances.

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What Light by Jay Asher. Read December 11-12. 3 Stars.

I’ve been really into holiday themed reads this year and I was really excited when my hold for this came in at the library in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, What Light did not come close to living up to the hype for me. It was ok. There were some good things – mostly Caleb and how he’s grown up and learned from past mistakes. And how sweet he was. And how he went to church and wasn’t portrayed as a religious nutcase. But I never really became invested in the romance between him and Sierra. I really disliked all of Sierra’s friends and while I felt like her relationship with her parents was better than in a lot of YA books, there was something about it that just seemed a little off. I was bored for big portions of the book. But the writing wasn’t bad and there were some cute moments, so I can justify giving it 3 stars and not something a little lower.

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Summer of Sloane by Erin. L Schneider. Read December 13-14. 2.5 Stars.

This is one of those trainwrecks that you can’t look away from. It was drama, drama, drama and after the initial shock value (Sloane’s best friend is pregnant – by Sloane’s boyfriend! *Not a spoiler because you find this out within the first 2 pages of the book*) and the broken nose/hand incident it stopped being fun. There’s a wealth of cheaters and poor communication. There are completely absent parents except for the very occasional times they had some life lesson to impart to Sloane. I think this would have made more sense as an NA novel than YA, like if Sloane was a junior in college instead of a junior in high school then things would have seemed a little less desperate? It’s mentioned repeatedly how Sloane needs to make decisions for herself and not let other people control her moods, but the whole book is about whatever relationship she’s in or who she’s fighting with.

I will say the one thing I really liked about it was how Sloane’s relationships with Mick (the best friend) and Tyler (the boyfriend) turned out. ****THIS IS SLIGHTLY SPOILERISH**** I thought that by the end they’d be all best friends again, but that doesn’t happen. She makes peace with one and has an even bigger fall out with the other – for reasons that go beyond the cheating/pregnancy incident. I liked that there was a focus on the need for forgiveness, but also that just because you can forgive somebody, that doesn’t mean things can go back to the way they used to be.

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Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) by Denise Hunter. Read December 15-18. 3 Stars.

After really hating the previous book in this series, I am so glad I went back to enjoying this author in this book. My biggest complaint with Hunter’s writing is that the female lead is almost always awful, but I actually liked Paige in this one. She was a little oblivious at times, but overall she was kind and thoughtful and was there for Riley even when he didn’t appreciate it. I liked Riley and thought the struggles he went through were probably pretty accurate to someone living through the changes he was. Though I thought the end was almost a little abrupt and would have really appreciated an epilogue, I did think this was an overall good ending to the series.

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Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2) by Dani Pettrey. Read December 18-19. 4 Stars.

I enjoyed this one! I think Pettrey gets better with each new book. I really liked the characters, the mystery, the message, and definitely shipped the romance. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Read December 20-23. 3.5 Stars.

I think I went into The Perfect Stranger with the wrong expectations. I thought it was going to be really suspenseful and have a big twist. I spent my time trying to figure out what the big twist would be and I think in the process the smaller twists and turns of the story were not fully appreciated. This was a good mystery, but I still find myself slightly disappointed at the lack of thrill and suspense. Full review to come closer to release date. 

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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My True Love Gave to Me. I think that I will probably never finish this. This is the third time I got this from the library and the first ever at the right time of year. This time I read the first two stories. I just don’t think short stories are my thing. Each one is like one really long chapter and we all know how much I hate long chapters.

****************DNF****************

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Anatomy of a Player by Cindi Madsen. Officially DNF-ed at about 23%. I really didn’t like either of the characters and I was not remotely invested in how the story was going. I’ve read and liked several other books by this author, but this one is just not for me. (And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that cover).