Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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

This is not the type of book I usually go for. I tend to avoid anything with a shirtless dude on the cover. However, the somewhat recent cover trend with the black and white picture and the soft color in the text is one that I really like. I also somehow missed the part in the synopsis that the loss of virginity was a plot point, which is also something I usually avoid. Despite those things, ever since I read Deanna’s (from A Novel Glimpse) review of this book I was intrigued. I’m so glad I decided to give Trust a try because I ended up really liking it.

The story starts out pretty intense with Edie becoming a hostage in a convenience store robbery. Scott did a really good job of creating the threatening atmosphere and I could feel Edie’s fear. John tries to keep the drugged up robber calm and it looks like things might be ok for awhile, before ending badly. During the fall out Edie loses her best friend and ends up changing schools, where she meets John once again.

The story is told in Edie’s 1st person POV and I felt a pretty strong connection to her. I identified a lot with her insecurities. Her new attitude from walking away from the convenience store was basically that nothing that wasn’t life and death mattered and that was kind of concerning. However, as the story goes on she does start to take the consequences of her actions (to both her and those around her) more seriously, while still being able to rise above the Mean Girl drama/insults that used to affect her. While I think she still has a way to go, I did appreciate her growth. And a lot of that had to do with John. I LOVED John. Before the convenience store he was a drug dealer and lived with his brother, who was also a dealer. Afterwards, though, he gave it up, moved in with his uncle, and started to take school more seriously. While he still indulged in some behavior I didn’t really approve of, I really respected how he got his life together and how much he changed. I loved how he looked out for Edie and was so sweet with her and I really enjoyed their friendship and shipped them to becoming more.

There were a few bits I didn’t like. Since John only dealt weed and not harder drugs and it was the only drug he sometimes did it was portrayed as no big deal. If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I think casual drug use is a really damaging thing to include in YA. While there was definitely an anti-“hard”-drug message, it felt counterproductive to include the casual marijuana use. The other thing I didn’t love was the sexual content. While I did think the subject was dealt with responsibly, there were a few scenes that I thought were far, far too explicit for YA.

Overall, I really did enjoy Trust. I liked the characters, especially John, and the relationship between him and Edie. Though I had my issues with it, it was a fast, easy read that I did not want to put down.  I’ve read a few books recently where I felt like I had to really push myself to finish, but this one I could not get enough of and is the reason I’m bumping up my final rating a bit. This is my first book by Kylie Scott and I’d like to read more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.


The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.”

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

The Marriage Pact will be available July 25, 2017.

I was in a weird book slump where nothing was sounding good to me when I decided to start reading The Marriage Pact. While it did take me a few chapters to get into it – whether because it started out a little slow or because of my mood, I’m not sure – it did eventually hook me and I could hardly put it down.

When Jake and Alice get married they receive an odd wedding present from a new acquaintance. It’s a locked box that they cannot open until they answer a series of questions about what they want their marriage to be and then wait for someone to come visit their home and explain. Inside the box is the Marriage Pact. A contract and a manual of rules to follow in a marriage, as well as a list of punishments if you break the rules. The goal of the pact is to have a lasting, successful marriage, so they agree to join. However, they soon come to realize how cult-like it is and how dangerous it is for them if they do not “make peace with the pact.”

Though I thought the book was a little too long and there was a little too much detail at times, I liked the writing style. It’s told from Jake’s 1st person POV and I found him likable, though often frustrating. I found myself disliking Alice most of the time because of how hard she was to nail down, which was also one of the things Jake loved about her.

I thought the psychological suspense aspect of the book to be really well done. I really felt Jake and Alice’s fear of the Pact. I am really fascinated by cults and the Pact is basically a cult. The punishment sessions were creepy and crazy. I never quite understood why it was so severe, though. There is an explanation late in the book about why punishment needs to exist to enforce the rules, but it still didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I guess cults don’t really make sense, though.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Marriage Pact. Though it started out a little slow for me and did get bogged down in the details a bit, for the most part it was well-paced and seriously creepy. I had fallen into a book slump before I started this and it definitely pulled me out. This is my first Michelle Richmond book and I’ll definitely be reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

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

Emma in the Night will be available August 8, 2017. 

There is no shortage of books about the return of missing girls, but Emma in the Night sets itself apart by including  and exploring an authentic narcissistic  character. The term Narcissist is used incorrectly a lot to describe people who are just arrogant, but it’s an actual personality disorder that is much more than just arrogance. Though at times the story turned almost a little too clinical describing how Judy, the mother of the missing girls (Emma and Cass), is a narcissist, it was a lot of interesting information.

The story is told through the POVs of Cass, the daughter that has returned and wants to help find her sister, and Abby, a psychologist with the FBI working the case who also grew up with a narcissistic mother. Through both of them we see just how twisted and abusive Cass and Emma’s childhood was and the reason behind that behavior.  I feel like the story is less about finding out exactly what happened, as finding out how exactly the characters reached this point. The conclusion to the crime/mystery was kind of clichéd and a little unsatisfying, but the events leading up to it were interesting.

I appreciated the new angle on the missing girls trope, but was left slightly underwhelmed overall. I think if you go into this for the character development, the family drama, and the mental health information rather than for the mystery, you will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Waste of Space by Gina Damico

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

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

Waste of Space will be available July 11, 2017.

This was such a different kind of book than what I’ve read before. While it didn’t quite work for me 100% of the time, I did find it an enjoyable, often humorous read.

I thought this was going to be a Contemporary sort of book, but it’s much more of a satire on reality tv. I have watched my fair share of reality shows and I found much of this to be really spot on – from the casting “…sixty percent white, thirty percent ethnic, ten percent undetermined…plus the four Golden Tokens: gay, foreigner, disabled, and orphan…”  (quote taken from ARC) to the manufactured dramatic plot points. I loved all the random reality tv show titles that were thrown in as being part of the same DV8 network. And I loved how it shows the audience being separated into those who fully believed these kids were in space, those who found the whole thing so fake it was insulting, and those that were just enjoying it and not really caring one way or the other how real it was.

I found some of the “spacetronatus” a little more likable and/or developed than others. I liked Snout and his pet pig, Colonel Bacon, who also came on the show. I loved Kaoru, who got recruited to the show against her will, only speaks Japanese, and is not at all amused at what is going on. The two characters that were the most developed were Titania and Nico. They developed a bit of a showmance and both had some serious backstories. I really liked Nico, but wasn’t quite as fond as Titania. I’m not quite sure why. She just kind of rubbed me the wrong way sometimes. I also thought that their storylines detracted from the overall satire feel of the book. I think that the author should have gone all in with the satire and left out the heavier storylines. The story felt a little unbalanced trying to switch back and forth between the two.

I expected to get the “spacetronauts” POV in a traditional narrative format. Instead, the story is told from a whistle-blowing intern who shares video, phone, and blog transcripts, along with his own observations. I really liked this format. All of my favorite portions of the story came from the transcripts with Chazz, the producer, working behind the scenes. I also enjoyed the Perky Paisley talk show and the various blog posts about the show. Where it lacked for me was actually with the kids on the show. While they did have several humorous moments, I found them way less interesting than the production of the show.

Overall, I found Waste of Space pretty enjoyable. I loved the satirical view of reality television. Though it did occasionally go a little far into cheesy territory, I thought it was really well done overall. If you’re looking for a humorous, different kind of YA book, I definitely recommend this one. Catchphrase forever!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

“The Final Girls need you. . . .  The Final Girls are tough, everything survivors should be.  But the new threat is clever, ominous, even closer than you suspect. You are about to gasp. You might drop the book. You may have to look over your shoulder. But you must keep reading.  This is the best book of 2017.”—Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Find Her

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

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

Final Girls will be available July 11, 2017.

Well, then. This just might be my biggest disappointment of the year so far.

Let’s start with the things that I kind of liked. I thought the flashback chapters to what happened at the cottage were more entertaining than anything else. It reads very much like any number of horror movies and while it was basically just one big cliché, it was entertaining. There was also several chapters towards the end of the book where the writing was a little more suspenseful and even though I could guess pretty much everything that was happening, I didn’t want to put it down during that short time.

This book could’ve been a little better for me if the characters weren’t so dang annoying. I HATED them. Quincy was ok in the very beginning, but then Sam showed up and it just all went down hill from there. Sam was the clichéd bad girl psycho who was there to lead Quincy off the straight and narrow. But you can’t really feel that bad for Quincy because she was so easily manipulated and made so many bad decisions and she’s kind of a psycho herself. I spent the vast majority of this book being so unbearably annoyed by both Sam and Quincy that it just ruined the whole experience for me.

I know there are a lot of people that have really loved this book, so I’m sure I’m in the minority opinion here. But, as someone who has seen a good deal of horror movies and reads a lot of this genre, this was not very mysterious or thrilling. I also recently read another book that had a similar storyline with a girl who escapes a murderer and has no memory about what happened and the conclusion was pretty similar. Overall, this was a big disappointment for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Her Surprise Engagement (The Sorensen Family #4) by Ashlee Mallory

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Single mom Daisy Sorensen doesn’t believe in fairytale endings—at least not for her. All she wants is to enjoy a much-needed, stress-free family vacation at a friend’s Lake Tahoe home. So of course everything that can go wrong does. Including a gorgeous man and his daughter showing up in the middle of the night.

Soon-to-be Governor Jack Harrison has had a crazy week, but he’s sure nothing can top arriving to find a bathrobe-clad, beautiful stranger in the home he’s staying in for the week. He’s wrong. When things spiral out of control the next morning, Jack makes Daisy an offer she can’t refuse. She’ll pretend to be his fiancée and he’ll help her open the bakery she’s been dreaming about.

But in between late-night campfires and days on the lake, Jack finds himself falling for the strong, stubborn woman for real.

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

I’ve been a fan of Ashlee Mallory’s The Sorensen Family series since the first book, Her Backup Boyfriend, and have enjoyed each book since. I love the relationships between the Sorensen siblings and have enjoyed getting each of their stories.

In Her Surprise Engagement we focus on the last of the Sorensen siblings, Daisy. Daisy has recently become a single mother and she’s determined to prove that she can provide for herself and her three children. She frustrated me at times because that determination came off as prideful and it didn’t seem like good parenting to turn things down that would be beneficial to her kids. However, as we get to know her a little better we see how it’s not so much pride keeping her from asking for help, but the fear of once again being in a position where she relied solely on someone else for support and how hard it would be to pick up the pieces of her life again if that support leaves. I liked how she learned that accepting some help sometimes didn’t mean she would lose her independence.

The fake-relationship storyline is always one of my favorites to read about and I liked that it was incorporated here. I thought the events that led up to it were humorous. I did think that the fake relationship turned real a little too fast, though. Jack is a love-at-first-sight kind of guy and while I thought he was sweet and romantic and did like him and Daisy together, it was a little too insta-love for me to really get behind it. They only know each other for a couple of weeks before he’s all in and I would’ve liked to have seen their relationship develop a little more before that.

Overall, I enjoyed Her Surprise Engagement. I enjoyed re-visiting the Sorensen clan one more time and thought this book did a good job of showing us all their Happy Ever Afters. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the series and Contemporary Romance.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

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

I saw several rave reviews on The Weight of Lies and knew that I had to read it. While I did like the story, it ended up falling a little short of my expectations.

I liked the concept of the story. Any time a book or movie centers around a writer, I’m in. I am also a sucker for cold case mysteries. I had many theories about what really happened and kept changing my mind from chapter to chapter. Carpenter really did a good job of keeping me guessing and ultimately surprising me with an unexpected twist. I also really enjoyed the excerpts from the book that was inspired by the mystery Megan is looking into. It paralleled the story really well and I thought it was a really clever narrative device.

While it started off a little slow, it did eventually suck me in once we got further into the story. The island – and some of it’s inhabitants – was pretty creepy and I really felt Megan’s paranoia. I liked Megan, but she frustrated me often. For being as paranoid as she was, you would think she’d be a little smarter. I kept wondering why she wouldn’t password protect her computer. Or how inner monologue would go on and on about how certain people were liars and untrustworthy, but she just kept trusting them anyways.

Overall, I enjoyed The Weight of Lies, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The mystery played out to it’s conclusion well, but I thought the actual ending of the book was pretty anti-climactic. I think I was expecting a more horror-inspired ending and was kind of disappointed it didn’t go that route. Also, while there is some good psychological suspense, I was expecting more. It was still a well-done, enjoyable book, though, and I think fans of the genre will like it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars