Review: The Vacation by T.M. Logan

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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

Streaming Saturday: The Stranger

We all love books here, but I thought I might start dedicating some posts on Saturdays to highlight one of my other loves – TV!

What I’m watching

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The Stranger on Netflix. 

Follows the lives of suburban families whose secrets and lies are made public by the appearance of a stranger.

Why I’m Watching

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The show is based on the book by Harlan Coben. Though I’m generally a fan of Coben, the book was just ok for me. When I saw him on book tour last year, he talked about working on the show and that made me want to watch it. He said that there would be some big differences from the book and he was fine with the changes as he thinks the watching experience should be different than the reading experience. I kind of disagree with that idea, but that’s ok. I’m only two episodes into the show so far and have noticed several differences. The stranger on the show is a woman instead of a man. The show is set in England rather than the US. And there’s a whole new sideplot introduced featuring the kids. 

Watch If You Like…

Lies by T.M. Logan

No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

What are you streaming right now?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2020

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw High #1) by Meagan Brandy. Read March 30-31. 2 Stars

So this is kind of the definition of Trashy Romance and Toxic Relationship. It was quite ridiculous and over the top. It’s getting two stars instead of one just because it kept my attention enough that I actually finished it. I might even try the next book to see where this crazy story goes. 

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. Super cute with likable characters. I liked that we got both POVs. I loved Logan and Paige’s relationship with his sisters. I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. Read April 8-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I was really frustrated by how childish Daisy acted for most of this book, but I did really like how it ended. And there were some funny and cute moments. Not my favorite Grey book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 9-10. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed parts of this. I liked the romance between Ava and Knox. I loved the relationship between Knox and his twin brother, Dane. I liked how Knox’s family finally got their act together. There were some things that didn’t work for me, though. The whole secret admirer love letter portion of the book was very short. There’s one letter, then some texts and you know who it is pretty much right away, even if it takes several chapters for Ava to confirm it (she also figured it out long before then, though). I was expecting that to be a much bigger part of the plot, so I was a little disappointed. I also didn’t think the sexual assault storyline was handled very well. It was used more for a “whodunit” type of plotline and didn’t deal too much with the physical, emotional, or psychological aspects that such a serious subject deserves.

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. Read April 12-13. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Both the characters had trouble with communicating and that frustrated me. This book also utilized one of my least favorite tropes. Had a couple of cute moments, but overall a pretty average Romance.

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Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 11-15. 2.5 Stars

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea. The angst was the only thing I really liked about it, which tells you how much I didn’t like the rest of it. But, I finished it and there were some funny or cute moments, too. 

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Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 15-21. 3 Stars. 

I got this for free awhile ago and finally decided to give it a try. It was just ok for me. It followed the basic formula every other book I’ve read by this author follows: Damaged protagonist falls for damaged athlete who has a complicated relationship with his father, a dead mother, and one close friend who provides comic relief.

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The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. Read April 21-22. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. I totally shipped Noah and Libby and I had a fun time reading about all their crazy adventures. One particular scene involving a big wedding dress and a public restroom made me laugh out loud. I did struggle with Libby a bit, though. Since it’s been so long since I read the previous books, I can’t remember if she was always so frustrating, but she really got on my nerves here. She did a ridiculous and crazy thing, after a history of doing ridiculous and crazy things, and then she got mad when her friends called her out on it. I also wish Swank wouldn’t have waited until almost the end of the book to reveal the root of Libby’s issues. I think I would have been less frustrated with her if we found out about it earlier. However, the rest of the book was so cute that these things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment at all.

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. Read April 21-23. 3.5 Stars

It took me a while to get into this, but about a third of the way in I really started to enjoy it. I was a little annoyed with Molly towards the end, but everything worked out in a cute way. I did like seeing Paige and Logan again. I’m definitely going to check out more books by this author.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram. Read April 26. 4 Stars.

This was both really sad and really sweet. Ella is in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her with scars on 70% of her body and mobility issues. She moves across the country to stay with her father who she hasn’t seen in ten years when he basically abandoned her. She has to deal with a lot of cruel people who make fun of her because of her scars, as well as new dysfunctional family dynamics. I really didn’t like her dad. I thought what he did and the reasons he did it were spineless and I think he should have been a little sorrier than he was. I also didn’t really like his new wife and I wish they would have handled the wicked stepsisters a little better than they did. Though, by the end of the book they have a lot of therapy and things do start to get better between them all and I liked that.

It took me a long time to get on board the romance. I found Brian (aka “Cinder”) really unlikable for awhile. Pretty much any time he wasn’t interacting with Ella, he was a dick. He did grow on me, though, and I shipped him and Ella. I’m a little nervous to read the next book because I feel like Ella’s already had to go through so much and I don’t want to see more bad things happen to her, which you know there has to be if a Romance/Family Drama gets a sequel. I still plan on reading it, though. I did really enjoy this, even if I had some issues with it.

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Fallen Crest Campout by Tijan. Read April 28. 3.5 Stars.

This was a quick, fun foray back into the Fallen Crest universe. There was still some immature drama, but for the most part it was a more grown up look at the Kades and I liked that. There was also the inclusion of characters from the Crew series, which spun off from Fallen Crest, and even though I haven’t read those yet, I didn’t feel too lost on the new characters. If you’re a fan of Fallen Crest, you should definitely check this one out.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 27-29. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed! I loved Jar of Hearts and have been waiting for Hillier’s next book ever since. I found this really underwhelming, though. It was super predictable with really unlikable characters. It read a lot more like a Women’s Fiction book than a mystery/thriller. The majority of the book revolved around a cheating plotline, which annoyed me. I kept waiting for all these great, twisty reveals and found absolutely none of them surprising. Just another hyped book that let me down.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I absolutely loved this just as much the second time around. I had forgotten how it really puts you through the emotional wringer. It was still a bit too long. I still wanted to punch Nick right in the face a few times. But I loved it so much. I loved Bex and Nick and watching their relationship unfold. I will say, though, that if Lacey meets an untimely demise in the sequel, I will not be sad.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. I still liked this a lot the second time around, but not quite as much as I was expecting. I forgot how unlikable Jasmine was about 90% of the time. For some reason I had less patience for her behavior this time around. I still loved Ivan, though, and the romance.

*****DNF*****

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. DNF @ 10%. I just couldn’t get into this. I found the main character really off-putting and couldn’t take any more of her.

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The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it’s just not for me. The dialogue made me cringe and everything the main character did just made me roll my eyes. I’ve seen some really good reviews on it, though, so it could just be me.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – 4 Stars

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – 3.5 Stars

The Vacation by T.M. Logan – 4 Stars

The Bright Lands by John Fram – 2.5 Stars

Always A Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: April 15, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. This was just ok for me.

What are you currently reading?

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The Vacation by T.M. Logan. This is definitely a page turner. I’m enjoying it so far.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I got an e-mail about being pre-approved for an ARC of Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein, so I decided to go with it. I just realized that I DNF-ed the last book I tried by this author, so I’m feeling a little hesitant, but I’m still going to give it a try.

What are you reading?

My COVID-19 ARC TBR

How is everyone doing? I personally think the world is overreacting right now, but I’ll still stay home and follow the guidelines the government and health officials put forth. I mean, I’ve been practicing social distancing all my life, so it’s not really a big deal. I am on administrative leave / working remotely for at least the next three weeks so that means plenty of time for reading! I plan on working through my ARCs:

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Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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Admission by Julie Buxbaum

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By the Book by Amanda Sellet

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Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

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The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

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The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Bright Lands by John Fram

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The Vacation by T.M. Logan

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Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

What’s on your COVID-19 TBR?

Review: 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of LIES comes 29 SECONDS, a sensational new thriller that explores what happens when a split second thought of revenge takes on a life of its own. 

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne, a renowned scholar and television host. The beloved professor rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, she’s left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid. In the only way he knows how. The man gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

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

29 Seconds will be available September 10, 2019. 

I found T.M. Logan’s last book, Lies, to be pretty entertaining so I had high hopes for 29 Seconds. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I was hoping to.

The topic is a timely #MeToo scenario. Sarah is a junior faculty member at a university and her boss is notorious for getting away with sexually harassing/assaulting his young, female subordinates. He has his sights set on Sarah and much of the book is her trying to figure out how to avoid his advances without ruining her career. With this being such a current and important topic, I was hoping for a strong female character who would do the right thing. Instead, Sarah was pretty spineless and just felt sorry for herself. I found her more annoying than anything else.

Then there’s the 29 Seconds part of the book. Sarah helps interrupt a kidnapping and to repay her, the little girl’s sketchy, mobster father offers to make someone in Sarah’s life disappear. Sarah initially refuses, but when things with her boss go from bad to worse, she makes a 29 second phone call to make her boss disappear. What follows is a lot of paranoia and a bumbled disappearance that kind of made the whole thing pointless. While I initially thought this idea was kind of intriguing, it just ended up being kind of ridiculous.

Overall, I found 29 Seconds kind of disappointing. While I liked the short chapters, the story did drag a bit. The characters were unlikable and the “twist” wasn’t really much of a twist at all. There was also an issue with the ARC copy I had where the villain’s last name kept changing between two different names. Hopefully this will be all sorted out by the final copy, but it made for a confusing and frustrating reading experience.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 2019

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda. Read July 30-August 2. 3 Stars. 

I liked this for awhile, but it kind of got old fast. It was really repetitive with not a lot really happening. You can tell right away that Jane is a sociopath, but she was still fun to read. It either says something about the writing or just how much I hate cheaters that I felt a little sorry for her when it came to her husband. But for real, he also wasn’t a good person. I had high hopes for a good twist at the end, but I guessed every single reveal well in advance. I also thought the last chapter was kind of lame and the book ended on a bit of a sour note for me. It might still be worth the read for fans of unreliable narrators.

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The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata. Read August 23-26. 3.5 Stars

A sweet story, but a little too long (like all of Zapata’s books). It involves my least favorite trope, but it didn’t end up being as frustrating as I thought it would be. I liked the characters and the romance.

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Mine by Courtney Cole. Read August 27-28. 4 Stars. 

Super addictive writing made this one hard to put down. I loved the alternating POVs and timelines. Both Tessa and Lindsey were pretty crazy and I was having a fun, if slightly horrified, time reading about them, but the last few chapters were kind of a let down. I expected a crazy twist or explosive ending, but it didn’t go that route. 

***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***I don’t like that there’s no definitive answer to what Tessa decides to do with her marriage. It kind of sounds like she decides to stay with her husband and that’s frustrating to me. It’s one thing to try to work things out if someone makes a mistake and are sincerely sorry about it, but that is not the type of person Ethan is. He’s a serial cheater and liar and only apologizes if he’s caught. I also read that the author decided to write this book after finding out about her own husband cheating. I don’t know what the current status of her marriage is, but in the About the Author section it mentions that she lives with “her husband and kids”, so I’m assuming she decided to stay with him. I just hope he’s a much better person than fictional Ethan is.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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29 Seconds by T.M. Logan – 2 Stars

Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond – 3.5 Stars

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren – 3 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018. I’m going to break this up by established authors and 2018 debut authors.

Established Authors

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1. Fredrik Backman. Read: Bear Town, Us Against You

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2. Mariana Zapata. Read: Dear Aaron, From Lukov with Love, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Under Locke, Luna and the Lie

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3. Peter Swanson. Read: All the Beautiful Lies 

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4. Jennifer Hillier. Read: Jar of Hearts

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5. Teagan Hunter. Read: Let’s Get Textual, I Wanna Text You Up, Can’t Text This

2018 Debut Authors

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6. Cara Hunter. Read: Close to Home

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7. Carola Lovering. Read: Tell Me Lies

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8. Joseph Knox. Read: SirensThe Smiling Man

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9. T.M. Logan. Read: Lies

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10. Oyinkan Braithwaite. Read: My Sister, the Serial Killer

Review: Lies by T.M. Logan

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

What if you have the perfect life, the perfect wife and the perfect child—then, in one shattering moment, you discover nothing is as it seems? Now you are in the sights of a ruthless killer determined to destroy everything you treasure.

It’s the evening drive home from work on a route Joe Lynch has taken a hundred times with his young son. But today, Joe sees his wife meet another man—an encounter that will rip two families apart. Raising the question: Can we ever really trust those closest to us?

Joe will do whatever it takes to protect his family, but as the deception unravels, so does his life. A life played out without any rules. And a cunning opponent who’s always one step ahead.

In the tradition of The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney and Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, T. M. Logan’s Lies is an unputdownable thriller that will keep readers guessing until the jaw-dropping finale.

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

Lies by T.M. Logan will be available September 11, 2018. 

Lies is a well-paced, entertaining thriller that managed to surprise me. The chapters were short and snappy and mostly ended in cliffhangers which made me keep saying “just one more, chapter” every time I thought I would put the book down. I thought the mystery was pretty well done, as well. I definitely guessed some of it, but not all of it, so I really enjoyed the reveal at the end. I did think it dragged just a bit in the middle, though, and could’ve been a little shorter.

While I liked Joe, I did have some issues with him. Here’s the thing about a lot of books with the whole “ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances” thing. They try to play detective and think they know better than everyone else and EVERY. SINGLE. THING. they do makes them look bad. Joe fell heavily into this trope and he kind of drove me crazy for most of the book. I just couldn’t believe how he couldn’t realize he was basically shooting himself in the foot every time he opened his mouth or followed up some lead. That said, he was still a sympathetic character I couldn’t help but root for.

Technology and social media is an important part of the book and it’s really made me want to go live off the grid. Things like Amazon’s Echo products that listen to you all day every day already kind of freak me out, but I don’t usually think much of all the information my phone records. Technology is terrifying and the way it was so easy to manipulate it to make Joe look so guilty was chilling.

Overall, I enjoyed Lies. I loved that the chapters were so short and suspenseful. While Joe did frustrate me, he was still a likable character that I wanted to see vindicated. I’m upping my overall rating a bit because the end managed to surprise me. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a fast and entertaining mystery.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars