NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Date by Louise Jensen

"Memories can be dangerous and not just for the person affected."

Lies, secrets, betrayal, and duplicity are at the heart of this psychological drama. The main character, Alison (Ali) Taylor goes on a blind date and wakes with no memory of the previous evening and, furthermore, her injuries have resulted in an incurable, rare condition that will forever prevent her from being able to recognize faces -- prosopagnosia. The events that occur after "the date" are only slightly more plausible because of that unusual disorder and it is what propels the plot. It's hard to really understand anything that happens to you if you can't tell WHO the people are when they appear in front of you. So -- the gist is that something bad happened that night and now someone is after Ali but she can't remember a thing, has amnesia, on top of the prosopagnosia.

The narrative is told in Ali's voice and moves along quickly despite the reader having to suck up a huge dose of disbelief and buy into her condition. She is constantly crying and emotional and histrionic as things go from bad to worse. I couldn't really identify with her character, and there were many other players in this convoluted story. Events from Ali's past are connected to the current torment and the savvy reader catches on quite quickly that the people in her life may not be what they seem. I'm sure that the climax and revelation was meant to be a shocking twist, but I have read far too many of this type of book to be surprised. Despite all these issues, I did enjoy the pace and the clinical information about the prosopagnosia.

The author writes a letter to the reader at the end of the book explaining that she had seen a documentary on the condition and kept wanting to write a story where the main character had it. Although I didn't care for Ali, I can see how the struggle to "do" life would be so much harder for a person who can't tell friends and family from strangers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this e-book ARC to read and review. I've read several other books by this author and will continue to follow her.

Standalone.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

 Oh, 'mommy dearest'.

The family Fitzsimons lives in a beautiful old mansion in Dublin. Andrew, the father, is a respected judge and Lydia enjoys being the lady of the manor. Though beset by fertility issues, they do manage to have a son, Laurence. Unfortunately, Lydia wants another child and urges Andrew to impregnate a local girl, Annie Doyle, so they can have her baby. Things go wrong as they often do, and Annie ends up dead. Covering up her murder isn't so hard, but living with it is...

This was a slow-burner of a psychological thriller and I'm glad that I stuck with it though tempted to give up several times. NO SPOILERS but you will have to just get into it all yourself at your own pace and stick in until the ultimate shocker of a conclusion. I think you'll end up seeing it worth your while.

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher Simon & Schuster for the e-book ARC to read and review.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

"We humans are amazing in our capacity for adaptation, aren't we?"

Erin and Mark Roberts are on their magical honeymoon in Bora, Bora when they find something in the water. This 'something' will rock their world and totally turn their lives in a new direction. NO SPOILERS, you'll just have to find out what it was and what Erin and Mark do. I'm sure you have some idea...

Actually, this was a fun, suspenseful thriller and I had a hard time putting it down as I raced through the pages to find out what happened next. Although I didn't  really care for Erin (her point of view drives the narrative), and though I know that I'd definitely not make any of the same choices that she made, it certainly made for an action-packed plot. I really wasn't quite sure how it would all end up despite my many attempts at guessing. Given how the novel starts, I thought I had some idea of where it was all going. Maybe I did, and maybe I fell for some clever plot twists.

This is one that you won't want to miss this summer. The only false note was that I didn't really get very invested in the side story of Erin's documentary though I see now how it was essential to some of the story, albeit a bit far-fetched. Despite those moments of suspended disbelief, I just went with the flow and enjoyed the theme (despite it being quite common).

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this e-book ARC to read and review.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

"There are two kinds of people in the world: the people you can fool into liking you, and the ones clever enough not to fall for it."

Wow -- what did I just read? This short novel was full of completely hideous characters that say and do things that actually caused me to shudder and gasp out loud. The gist of it in simple terms, a poor girl (Louise) gets "adopted" like a stray pet by the rich, crazy girl (Lavinia). They hang out, go to wild parties, post tons of photos and status updates on social media and Louise eventually loses her various jobs, has no way to continue to support herself, so she's ends up living in Lavinia's apartment. And that's just the start of this totally messed up story. Bad things happen, but no spoilers. Nobody's dreams come true in this tale.

Just wondering who I could recommend this to, and can't come up with a name. If you are the type who enjoys a book that is populated by characters you'd never want to meet, much less befriend, then maybe you would like this one. So many literary references that my mind was boggled with the continuous nagging thought -- how pretentious. I definitely don't KNOW this New York and can honestly say that I'm very glad about that! Wondered if anything like this was really happening out there in the real world, and hoped not.

Just leaving it here -- read if you want your mind blown. Although not my cup of tea (or glass of champagne), I do want to thank NetGalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

 Well now -- you know how it is when you pick up a book you know next to nothing about and then can't put it down? One that is written in such an engaging style as to be addictive, and you want to keep reading? That was this one -- a psychological thriller that dots all the i's and crosses the t's. Until the end.

Geo (Georgiana) Shaw is just 16 when she meets the man who will help her destroy her life. Calvin James. They end up committing the crime that puts Geo in prison for 5 years and Calvin for life. Though Geo had moved on and was never held to account for the murder and burial of Geo's best friend, Angela Wong 14 years prior. But the authorities finally found out the truth, and Geo tries to serve her time and lay the past to rest.

Unfortuntely, the past really never fades and when Geo gets out of prison, she's faced with a new trauma. Cavin has escaped prison and more murders are occuring. No spoilers, but at near the very end was a twist I actually didn't see coming. I never really cared for Geo as a character, I thought she got off easy, and I couldn't understand the love and devotion extended to her by her high school friend, now cop, Kaiser. I didn't like her no matter how sympathetic the author tried to make her. And did I already say this? I hated the ending. It just didn't seem right to me after I'd invested all that time reading! Nevertheless, I did like the book a lot until that point.

Despite the offending conclusion, I enjoyed this novel and will most likely read another by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur books for this e-book ARC to read and review.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder

A convoluted, twisty tale of marital infidelity, scheming, and people who aren't who you think they are. The 3 main characters are Natasha, Nick, and Jen -- actually I didn't find any of them relatable or likeable, but surely everyone has a redeeming quality or two. Maybe.

Jen and Nick, childhood sweethearts, were married for 20 years. Unsuccessful at having a child, Nick has an affair with Natasha and decides to divorce Jen and marry Natasha when she becomes pregant. Pretty common domestic drama, right? Well the plot thickens when, out of the blue, Natasha returns to the home she shares with Nick anad their daughter, Emily, to find herself locked out and both Nick and Emily vanished. No spoilers, but the reader is treated to cross and double cross and a few 'gotcha' moments as this sordid saga reaches a climax. It's told in multiple points of view and flips back and forth in time to increase what is meant to be a degree of suspense and tension. How will it all end and what actually did happen to these characters?

I read a lot of psychological thrillers so my anticipation and thrill meter is often lower than that of other readers. It kept my interest and I was curious to see how it all played out. I can't say that there were any real surprises at the climax, but the author did try very hard to weave a complicated web that required the slow unraveling to all make sense. This is a standalone novel and not part of any series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this e-book ARC to read and review.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Follow Me Home (Alton and Kane #3) by D.K. Hood

This third book in the Sheriff Jenna Alton and Deputy Dave Kane series focuses on the search for a vigilante who is killing men suspected of child kidnapping and rape. Set in Black Rock Falls and the surrounding wilderness, the investigation takes Jenna and her entire team on a fast-paced effort to discover the identity of the killer and also figure out the names of all the men possibly involved in the pedophile ring who might need to be protected from the revenge murders. They come to the conclusion rather rapidly that the vigilante is a woman -- but there were many previous victims of this child molestation pack and most of the girls have never been found. Can they stop the killer before she strikes again -- and though Jenna feels sick about the damaged and killed children, she does not believe in this type of vengeance.

Alton and Kane are partners and neighbors who may or may not realize that they are probably romantically interested in each other though they disguise it with talk of "friendship." Both have previous lives doing other law enforcement type of work and ended up, somehow, together in this backwater country town under different names. They're very tough, emotionally and physically, and despite the fact that Jenna is the boss and Kane her deputy, they operate more or less on equal footing. It does, however, seem that Jenna requires a lot of rescuing and backup -- when she has sense enough to ask for it! The characters have been developing and becoming more fully fleshed out as the series continues from one book into the next but the reader doesn't get much glimpse into their personal lives because it seems they are always working or rushing off to another crime scene! I actually like Kane a lot more than I do Alton, mostly because it seems she's trying too hard to be the boss, control the situations, and overcompensate.

I enjoy the pace of the writing, the detail of the setting, and the cases that Alton and Kane tackle. I'm looking forward to #4 and suggest that anyone new to Alton and Kane read the books from the beginning, in order.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this e-book ARC to read and review.