Fiction · microreview · Review · Short

Microreview: The Guy Who Died Twice (D.D. Warren #9.5), by Lisa Gardner

Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren confronts the strangest case of her career in this exclusive eBook short story by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

D. D. Warren was pretty sure she’d seen it all. Then a man walks into police headquarters, attempting desperately to convince the squad that he’s dead. Explaining to him that he’s very much alive, they finally send him on his way . . . and then hours later, he turns up actually dead. And it’s on D. D. Warren to figure out how and why the dead man died . . . twice.

died twiceThis Clue-esque murder mystery was so fun to read. It’s a short one, clocking in at 96 pages, so it’s great for a palate cleanser between books, or even as a tool for procrastination.

The story has a small cast of characters and takes place on one day, in one location. We learn just enough about each person to get a small insight into their personalities, so we can try to figure out who did it and why.

The premise is catchy and the solution to the mystery isn’t completely predictable. There’s enough misdirection to cause second guessing, but the outcome isn’t too far fetched.

never tellI’ll be honest, I like pretty much anything Lisa Gardner writes, and this short story was no exception.

I received an ARC of this book from Dutton, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is January 8.

I also received an ARC for Lisa Gardner’s next book, Never Tell, which comes out later in February. Look for my review closer to the publish date.

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Fiction · Five Stars · Review

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

If you’re a fan of domestic suspense, you will not want to miss An Anonymous Girl.

anon girlAs someone who would totally sign up for a psychological study to make a quick buck, I identified with Jess immediately. She moved to the big city to chase her dream, but circumstances caused her to freelance instead, and it was not an easy grind. The invitation to participate further in the study and increase compensation was an opportunity she could not afford to pass up.

Dr. Shields, our creepy antagonist, is masterfully written. Having an inflexible, sharply honed moral compass positions her as a first class villain. She has tremendous wealth at her disposal, which when combined with her psychiatric expertise, makes her a master manipulator.

The story is slow burning, full of unreliable narrators who leave false clues along the way. This isn’t a book with one big AHA! moment, but there are small twists and turns that cause you to question what is real and what is a result of paranoia.

My only regret is that I started reading too late in the night to finish this in one sitting. I felt compelled to keep going, because I just had to know what would happen next. I didn’t even come close to guessing how it would finish, even though I had at least three possibilities I was sure were plausible.

If I had any critique, it would be that I felt the ending was a little murky. It’s clear what happened, but I wasn’t convinced of the why.

All in all, I was impressed by An Anonymous Girl. My emotions ran high and made every moment feel exciting and dangerous.

I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is January 8, 2019.

Coming Soon · Meta · Review

All the TBRs, December Edition

Winter is my favorite time to curl up with a good book and one or two cats. This one is extra special, because it’s the first winter in our new home.

And, boy, do I have plenty to read!

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Publication date: January 8, St. Martin’s Press

anon girlWhen I requested this book–through a Facebook ad, of all places, I wasn’t even sure what it was about. I saw a link that said Enter Now for an ARC, and I just couldn’t help myself. I just had to hit the button.

I was delighted to find out that this is a psychological thriller featuring a psychology study. I’m starting in on this one tonight and I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

 

 

The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides

Publication date: February 5, Celadon Books

silent patientAnother psychological thriller, through Facebook. I had no idea that Facebook was a reliable source for ARCs. Just what I need, another even easier way to get more books. Life is hard.

This one involves a murder, a perpetrator who stops talking altogether, and criminal psychotherapist who wants to get her to talk again and solve the mystery of what really happened.

Oh, and that cover, tho.

Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim

Publication date: April 16, Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Sarah Crichton Books

miracle creekI’m breaking my own rule and reading this one early. I try to read books in order of closest pub date, but I am really excited to read Miracle Creek and it’s fallen into the Older Than Three Months tab on NetGalley, which causes me low key anxiety.

I know I’ve already written about this title in other posts, before I got inundated with a bunch of earlier to be published books,  but this time I mean it!

 

 

Baby of the Family, by Maura Roosevelt

Publication Date: March 5, Dutton Books

A wry and addictive debut about a modern-day American dynasty and its unexpected upheaval when the patriarch wills his dwindling fortune to his youngest, adopted son–setting off a chain of events that unearth family secrets and test long-held definitions of love and family.

baby of the familyThis blurb reminds me vaguely of The Nest, which I enjoyed immensely.

This title only has one review on Goodreads so far, but it is glowing one. I have high hopes for Baby of the Family.

 

 

 

 

Owing to how busy I’ve been, I’m only committing to four books for December, but I hope to regain momentum and get back to my usual eight to ten soon.

What’s on your December radar?

Meta

Stay Tuned, y’all!

I’m sure you all know how busy this time of year can be!

We just got back from vacation and work has been all encompassing this week, but I’ll have a review or two for you early next week.

I just finished Nine Perfect Strangers, and it was just what I needed to get through this crazy week.

Happy reading!

Fiction · Review

If, Then, by Kate Hope Day

If, Then was an interesting read. It had the quiet contemplative nature of a character driven narrative, while drawing excitement with a bit of speculative fiction.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of a handful of neighbors, each of whom is grappling with a major life change and unsure of how they should proceed in the aftermath.

The prose itself was beautiful and erudite. It was unapologetically intelligent and I enjoyed that academic topics are written about without any dumbing down. It felt more authentic.

I felt varying levels of attachment to each character, but I wish that the book had been longer and we were given a deeper understanding of each. This is essentially a character driven book and I wanted more.

I enjoyed the premise of the story, but I wish it had been explored more deeply. I was left wanting more detail and a more fleshed out set of possibilities.

The finish was satisfying without being predictable and it was fittingly open ended.

If, Then is a great debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Kate Hope Day.

I received a complimentary ARC of this novel from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is March 12, 2019.

Fiction · Five Stars · Review · Thriller

The Psychology of Time Travel, by Kate Mascarenhas

I could not put down this book! I finished it in one sitting because I have no will power and I had to know how it ended. 

53975d84-06bc-430a-84f5-fa9428346bb2-64252-00001337d265760eYou know those book memes that are always asking which fictional setting would you like to live in? Well, my answer is this one.

This take on time travel was so unique and it’s a mystery and it is full of strong female characters who each are main characters in their own right.

The prose is sharp and intelligent, but you don’t have be a scientist to understand the basic mechanics of how time travel works in this universe.

What really stands out to me are the complicated relationships that are woven through the story. The actions in this book are all high stakes and no details are extraneous. If you want to figure out the whodunnit and howdunnit, you need to be paying attention the whole time. I didn’t quite figure it out before the reveal, but I had a lot of fun trying to puzzle it out as I went along. 

I find it pretty amazing that this book is a debut. I was almost turned away by the fact that is classified as a thriller, and many thrillers are nearly rote at this point, but I’m glad I was not. It feels more like literary fiction than a thriller, or even sci-fi.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys intricate stories with strong female leads, even if science fiction or thrillers are not usually your thing. 

I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Expected date of publication is February 12, 2019.

 

Book Tags · Coming Soon · Fiction

First Line… Saturday?

I know I’m a little late for a Friday post, but I’ve been looking forward to starting The Psychology of Time Travel for a while now, and I finally am!

I’ve heard so many good things about this book already and I can’t wait to dive right in!

The laboratory, in Cumbria, was home to four young scientists. Margaret was a baroness turned cosmologist. Lucille has come from the Toxteth slums to make radio waves travel faster than light. Grace–who never gave the same account of her history twice–was an expert in the behavior of matter. And the last was Barbara: the baby of the group, hair so fair it was nearly white, ruddy-cheeked and naively wholesome. She specialized in nuclear fission. All four women were combining their knowledge in a new, and unique, project.

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Tags · Meta

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books I Want to Read

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I am super excited, but also a little intimidated by this week’s topic. My TBR is out of control and there are so many books to be read in so little time, and more and more come out that I just *have* to read.

Using NetGalley to review books makes it even worse for me. I tell myself I’m not going to request any more titles, but that is a lie, and then I feel like I have no time to read books outside of the ARCs, because I need to keep my ratio up!

Here are my Top Ten Backlist reads, in no particular order:

His Dark Materials Series, by Philip Pullman

compassI will be completely honest here. I just want to read these books so I can watch Lin-Manuel Miranda in the t.v. series when it comes out. I could just watch the show without reading the books first, but that just feels wrong.

 

 

 

 

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray

terrible beautyA number of my friends really liked this book, and I’ve seen it on few Top Ten Tuesday lists, so I was intrigued. It’s historical fiction, involves the supernatural, and takes place at a boarding school. Sign me up. the reviews on Goodreads seem to be pretty mixed, but I’ve been known to like a bad book or two anyway.

 

 

 

The Smell of Other People’s Houses, by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

smellI became interested in this one because I just loved the title and the cover is breathtaking. I also read the Great Alone and became obsessed with Alaska, and I love family dramas.

 

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige

dieI love a good re-telling, and this one seems pretty badass. I watched The Wizard of Oz about one million times as a child and it’ll be interesting to see yet another take on Oz.

 

 

 

 

 

Grant County Series, by Karin Slaughter

blindsightedI came to the Karin Slaughter game a little late, but I have certainly made up for lost time. I’ve read 13 of her books so far, but none in the Grant County series. I know once I start, I’ll want to read all of them, so I need to wait until I can set aside a good chunk of time.

 

 

 

 

The Wife, by Meg Wolitzer

wifeI just really like Meg Wolitzer. I thought The Female Persuasion was particularly good and I enjoy books about other peoples’ marriages. This one has been on my TBR for a while and I hope next year I finally get around to it.

 

 

 

 

Longbourn, by Jo Baker

longThere are so many tellings of what happens after Pride and Prejudice, and for the most part, they don’t really interest me much, but I think the story being told from the servants’ point of view is a potentially unique take.

 

 

 

 

Educated, by Tara Westover

educatedI’m not sure of this strictly counts as backlist, but two seasons have passed, so I’m going to go ahead and include it.

I haven’t heard a single bad thing about this book. I don’t read nearly enough memoirs and this one looks fascinating.

 

 

 

The Werewolf of Bamberg, by Oliver Pötzsch

bambergThe Hangman’s Daughter is such a delightful series and I’m not sure how I managed to overlook this one for so long!

 

 

 

 

 

House of Names, by Colm Tóibín

house of namesAfter reading Brooklyn, I added all of Colm Tóibín’s book to my TBR, but this is the one I want to read first. Agamemnon is basically the worst, but he makes for good storytelling.

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it, y’all. Have you read any of these? Feel free to share your thoughts and I look forward to reading your lists, too!

 

 

Fiction · Review · Women's Fiction

The Girls at 17 Swann Street, by Yara Zgheib

It’s really hard to write a review for books like this one.

Disordered eating is an emotionally charged subject, and the story is made even more heartbreaking when it is told from the point of view of the patient herself.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

girlsThe prose is fantastic. The writing is intelligent and well constructed, and I empathized with Anna deeply, despite not being close to anyone with an eating disorder or having dealt with one myself.

There is not a whole lot of character development aside from Anna’s, but I think that is by design. Those who suffer from eating disorders often isolate themselves, and Anna doesn’t really learn much about the other girls at 17 Swann Street, so neither do we.

This is an important novel. I hope you will read it and share it with the women in your lives. Just having gained some insight into the nightmare that eating disorders is may equip someone to make a difference in the life of a person with this disease.

I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is February 5, 2019.

Fiction · Review · Thriller

Her One Mistake, by Heidi Perks

This is another of those unreliable narrator thrillers with a twist that are all the rage these days, but this one sets itself apart with a really solid narrative, backed by equally strong writing.

her one mistakeHer One Mistake was a quick read, but there were a lot of little nuances tucked in throughout the story. I didn’t realize how clever they were until the big reveal. The misdirection incorporated into the plot caused just enough self-doubt that I didn’t figure out the twist beforehand, but I was really pleased when the turning point came.

The story is told alternatively through the eyes of Charlotte and Harriet. I thought Charlotte and Harriet were good foils for one another and I found it particularly interesting to observe the blind spots they each had when it came to the details of each other woman’s life.

I would recommend this title to those of you who enjoy domestic thrillers that keep you on your toes.

I received an ARC of Her One Mistake from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is January 8, 2019.