Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ’s next adult novel will be a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

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

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will be available October 17, 2017.

I love a good holiday romance and I love Pride and Prejudice re-tellings, so Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looked like it would be perfect for me. While it was a fun read, it ended up falling short of my (pretty high) expectations.

I loved the idea of a gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice. I can’t think of any other re-tellings I’ve read that took that angle. I also like the idea of getting Darcy’s POV instead of Elizabeth’s (or Luke’s, in this case). Unfortunately I felt like this was more of an “inspired by” then a true re-telling. If it wasn’t for the names of the characters (Darcy Fitzwilliam, Bingley Charles, Luke Bennett) and the title of the book I’m not really sure if I would’ve even noticed that it was supposed to be a re-telling. That said, the story wasn’t bad. It was a very quick and easy read and had many cute or funny moments.

Darcy was pretty unlikable, which was ok in the beginning because she was kind of supposed to be. However, I don’t think she ever became more likable. Even though she was supposed to be this brilliant, successful woman, she was super immature and self-centered and kind of oblivious. There’s several scenes where she explains how she’s just super confident and driven, and not snobby or selfish, but honestly I just didn’t buy it. I was rooting for her, though, and she did make some strides when it came to her family. Luke was more likable, but we actually don’t get a lot of him. There is not very much time spent with Luke and Darcy together before they are officially together, so I had a hard time really shipping them as a couple. We do get more of them together in the end, which I liked.

One thing that does kind of bug me, which is not the book’s fault, is that the synopsis sounds pretty different than the actual story. Darcy doesn’t really date the type of guys mentioned, I don’t recall a mention of multiple cell phones, and she comes home to see her mom, despite her estranged father and three brothers she’s never really liked. Luke is described as less ambitious than Darcy, but I don’t think he was ever referred to as a slacker. The “fall into bed” statement is also misleading. There were also some continuity issues within the story that bothered me. I’m hoping that those are just ARC issues, though, and will be ironed out in the finished copy.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a cute, quick, and easy read. I loved the concept for the book even though it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. I think hard core Pride and Prejudice fans will find it a little lacking, but if you’re looking for a nice holiday romance I would recommend checking this out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A woman without a memory struggles to discover the truth about her past and her identity in this cerebral and dark thriller reminiscent of works by bestselling authors S.J. Watson and Ruth Ware.

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

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

How I Lost You will be available October 10, 2017. 

I really wanted to like this book. It definitely looks like it would be just my type. Unfortunately, it just didn’t really work for me.

The pacing felt off. It seemed to drag on and on until about the last quarter of the book. It took me five days to read this, which is kind of unheard of for me for a book of this size. By the end things started to happen at a faster, more suspenseful pace, but it couldn’t really save it.

The alternating POV and timeline, which I usually am a big fan of, didn’t work for me. The story was told mostly through Susan’s 1st person POV, which I liked, but mixed in were flashback chapters from a group of boys from their high school and college days. Though we know they are obviously involved with Susan’s predicament in some way or another, it takes awhile until a connection is revealed. Besides that, though, I found those portions kind of confusing. Part of the problem could have been that the formatting of the ARC was kind of messed up, which I imagine will be cleaned up in the final published version. But I also think it could’ve used a little more editing.

I did find Susan to be a mostly likable and sympathetic main character, though. I found her frustrating at times, but she had obviously been through a lot. I liked her loyalty to her friend, Cassie, even though I was suspicious of her at times. I also liked Nick, even though I didn’t really trust him, either. While there was obviously many suspicious characters, I’m glad I was wrong about a few of them.

Overall, there was just something missing for me in How I Lost You. While I did ultimately want to find out what really happened, I just didn’t care for most of it and found myself skimming a lot. I think that it could have benefited from a steadier pace in the beginning. I’m sure that there will definitely be people who will enjoy this, though, even if it wasn’t really for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

 

Review: Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

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

Blind Spot will be available October 3, 2017.

I’m a fan of Dani Pettrey and have really enjoyed the Chesapeake Valor series. I’m disappointed to say that this installment, while still a good read, did not live up to my expectations.

It took me a really long time to get into the story. In the previous book, Still Life, there is a subplot with Declan and a potential terrorist attack that I didn’t really like. That subplot becomes the main focus of this book, along with Declan and his romantic interest Tanner, so I think I started off the book a little biased. It took me until over half way through to really start enjoying it. There were a few well done suspenseful moments thrown in, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the book that I really felt the urgency.

It also took me a little while to get on board the Declan and Tanner ship. I did like Declan pretty early on, but I thought Tanner could be a little condescending. There’s also a reveal about Tanner’s big secret, shameful past that greatly annoyed me. There was absolutely nothing for her to be ashamed of and I thought it was kind of disrespectful to the real life people in that position. Tanner did eventually grow on me, though, and I was happy when her relationship with Declan finally progressed. I also liked how their faith was effortlessly written into the story. I didn’t think there was any “big lesson” they had to learn, but their Christian faith was evident in who they were and I liked that.

We also get Griffin’s POV with the second major storyline, the murder of a friend/mentor of the group. I have to say that I was incredibly bored with this storyline. With the terrorism plot, this one just didn’t really seem to matter. I thought that the answers came way too easily, too. And as with the previous book, I don’t understand how all these people are able to share details of official investigations. And how does Griffin have any jurisdiction to pursue someone out of the country? I also thought it was odd that Tanner, who is a crisis counselor, gets to be Declan’s partner once they’re done with her connection to a potential witness. I feel like you have to overlook a lot when it comes to the crime solving in this series.

We get one other person’s POV and it was the one I most enjoyed. We finally get some answers (though vague) on the missing Luke. I had some issues with the way different members of the group reacted to his reappearance, but I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from. I just hope they get over it quickly in the next book.

Overall, I thought Blind Spot was Pettrey’s most ambitious book yet. I can appreciate the effort to elevate the central mystery to a national threat and not just something that affects someone in the group of friends, but it just fell a little short for me. I had a hard time getting into the story and while I did like Declan and Tanner eventually, I did not enjoy them as much as I did the central couples of the previous books. I did really like the appearance of Luke, though, and am really looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

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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

Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

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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

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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

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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